We don’t exactly reinvent the wheel when we say that translations vary very much. It’s common knowledge that every industry has rules of its own and, depending on the type of text we’re currently translating, we need to approach it in a suitable way and use appropriate vocabulary.
Patents are a very characteristic branch of translation industry. These are texts which lie on the borderline of two fields: technology and law. The translators who undertake the task of translating patent validations not only have to be specialists in the field of a given patent, but they also should be familiar with the specific patent jargon. What adds to all that is the problem related to the very essence of writing patents.
What is this problem exactly?
The authors of the inventions, along with the patent attorneys representing them, are doing everything to grant the patent application as broad a range of usage as possible, simultaneously trying to reveal very little information and specific data. This is done in order to prevent the potential rivals from gathering information and ideas from the patent publication, which later will be publicly available. As a consequence, the texts of patents are often difficult to understand, they do not contain enough technical data for it to be easily comprehensible for a specialist from the outside, and they are a mixture of industry language and legal language.
Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Fortunately, even such a difficult task can be performed, and in Diuna Translation Agency we’ve been doing it for years and with success. The key to success is a close cooperation with patent attorneys, which let us learn the industry secrets related to writing patent applications and the typical legal vocabulary used in this domain. In case of doubts, we can always seek their advice or consult problematic concepts. This is how every one of our translators knows that in case of patents, a drilling device cannot become a drill, a sliding agent cannot become a lubricant and that patent claims are never grammatical sentences. We know when to use the word “distinctive” and when to use the phrase “characterised by”. We remember that the subject of the invention is usually the manner, not the method, and that we don’t patent discoveries. On the other hand, among our employees we have translators specialising in many domains of technology and we always do our best to make sure that technical texts are entrusted to experts who understand the particular invention. Very often it’s not as obvious as it could seem.
Another issue with the translation of validations is the fact that the inventors descend from all over the world, but the patent texts valid in the European Union must be published in one of the three languages: English, French or German. This very often results in us having to deal with a text written in English by a Chinese or in French by an Italian. We are aware of this and it allows us to retain a more flexible approach to the “linguistic” side of the text and it makes us more aware of possible language mistakes in the original. We have many years’ experience in tackling such language “monstrosities” and this allows us to pick out authors’ intentions with almost ideal accuracy, even when the language of the patent is far from being perfect. Thanks to our ability to easily search through the patent databases available online, we can check the sources to resolve any doubts or to find a patent “family”. We often do that in other language versions and that helped us more than once to understand the nature of an invention or gave us the access to more legible figures attached to a validation.
We also know how important it is to be consistent in the usage of terms when it comes to inventions. The translators working in Diuna instinctively create glossaries while translating a text – this allows them to be consistent in translation of given terms. For this reason, our Clients can always be sure that the texts are translated in a consistent manner and, if another equivalent of a word is preferred, the term can be easily found and replaced.
What is equally important, or maybe the most important of all, we always keep in mind that while translating the descriptions of inventions, the translator’s task is to render the text almost literally and not to interpret it. We are aware that our role here is minimal and the translator’s interference should be completely invisible. Sometimes we translate a text and it pains us to see errors in the content, but we know that our task is to signalise them, and not to correct them. In such cases, we always inform the Client of the imperfections in the original, but we always leave the decision about changing the text to the patent attorney in charge.
And the last thing – our goal is to constantly improve our translation skills. We always gladly discuss the tasks with our clients, we do our best to study the literature on the subject, we accept every criticism and we aim to enlarge our team with specialists form various domains, such as mechanics, pharmacy, medicine, electronics or chemistry. We introduce these specialists to the world of patents, so that they can approach their everyday work – translating patents – with full awareness of the complexity of this issue.
During the last seven years, we have gained the experience thanks to which we can provide you with the best quality of services in the domain of patent translation. We hope that the cooperation between patent attorneys and Diuna Translation Agency will be even closer in the future and the trust we built together will allow us to continue this fruitful collaboration.