EHLION Magazine

Understanding Patent Translation: A Comprehensive Guide for Businesses


Every business owner understands that protecting intellectual property is vital to creating a successful venture. Yet, the world of patents can be complex and often intimidating. This article will provide a detailed guide on patent translation, a crucial aspect of intellectual property protection that needs to be addressed.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind, such as:

  • inventions
  • literary
  • artistic works
  • designs
  • symbols
  • names
  • computer software
  • a novel production process or
  • a new drug formula
  • images used in commerce.

These properties can be protected by law through patents, copyrights, and trademarks, which enable individuals and businesses to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

What exactly is a patent?

A patent is an exclusive right allowing an inventor to exclude others from making, using or selling his or her inventions for the duration of the patent. This patent definition is important to note, as it means that a patent does not give the inventor the right to make, use or sell his or her invention, but only to exclude others from doing so.

A patent can be granted for any invention having a technical character provided that it is new, involves an ‘inventive step’ and is susceptible to industrial application.

Patents have to be registered in the countries or territories where protection is being sought. Most patent filings are, however, made under an international treaty: the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). This treaty dates back to 1970, and by filing one international application under the PCT, applicants can protect their inventions in more than 150 contracting states.

While it’s technically possible to file a patent application on your own and without specialised patent attorneys, professional assistance certainly makes it easier to navigate the patent law landscape and can help you to avoid a lengthy and potentially unsuccessful patent process.

A successful patent application traditionally involves extensive patent searches, form filing and, last but not least, the exact translation of your invention. EHLION has many years of experience in providing patent translations, and we are able to give you detailed advice on patent applications.


Patent criteria

Although there are slight variations as to what can be patented where, generally speaking patent protection is available for any product, process or design that meets the requirements of novelty, non-obviousness (which essentially means that the invention must not be an obvious variation or combination of subject matter previously known) and utility.

Different types of patents

There are different kinds of patents, but when most people talk about patents, they are usually referring to product patents which are called utility patents – a process, a machine, a manufactured product or a new composition of matter such as a new drug. The US also grants plant patents for the production, discovery and invention of any new kind of plant capable of reproduction, as well as design patents for inventions which include an original, new and ornamental design for a manufactured product.

Confusion sometimes arises as there are also other intellectual property (IP) rights – for example trademarks and copyright – which also protect creative and artistic inventions, and in some cases, inventors should weigh up the pros and cons of applying for a patent as other IP rights could also be used to protect the results of their work.

For instance, in many countries, computer programs are protected under copyright, and obtaining a software patent might not always be required. Besides, the patent process requires you to disclose unique information about your innovation, and given that there may be multiple ways of creating your software solution, disclosing your idea may actually be counterproductive.

How to patent an idea

The question often arises as to whether you can patent an idea. Strictly speaking, the answer is no. To successfully apply for a patent, you need more than a great thought. You need to have worked out how exactly your invention functions and be able to describe it in detail so that it could actually be built. Simply having an idea is not enough. However, you do not need to produce a prototype prior to filing a patent application.

Where can you apply for a patent?

Never forget that patent laws are country-specific and that a patent granted in one country won’t protect your invention elsewhere. Before filing a patent application, you should always ask yourself for which markets your invention would be most commercially attractive. Besides being able to sue for patent infringements, this would enable you to enter into lucrative patent licensing agreements.

Patent Cooperation Treaty

The (PCT) Patent Cooperation Treaty is an international treaty with more than 150 Contracting States. This patent makes it possible to seek patent protection for an invention, design, software, etc, simultaneously in a large number of countries by filing a single “international” patent application instead of filing several separate national or regional patent applications. The PCT application, or pct patent, simplifies the process of filing patents in multiple countries.

How much does a patent cost in 2023?

Patent application costs vary from country to country, and in addition to patent office fees, you need to budget for legal fees and translation costs. The exact cost will also depend on factors such as the complexity of the invention, the length of the application process and possible objections raised during the examination by the patent office.

For a full overview of USPO’s costs, take a look at their fee schedule.

EPO offers an interactive fee schedule, which allows inventors to get a good idea of the costs involved.

For an easy comparison, we’ve listed below the fees for a US patent and those for a European patent. All fees mentioned are valid for online filing and apply to large entities. Depending on your patent and application, there are other fees you may need to pay.

Have a look at some of the Frequently Paid Fees here:

 DescriptionUSPTOEPO (Direct)
Filing Fee$320€285+
Search Fee$700€1,460+
international search Fee$1,875€1,775+
Examination Fee$760€1,840+
Registration of transfer$110€115+
Issue Fee$1,200€1040+
Frequently Paid Fees

Fees for international applications under the PCT system that reach WIPO depend on the fees of the national authorities that are part of the PCT system, and can therefore vary substantially. While applicants can register their patent in all PCT member states with just one application, they would need to pay each country’s fees where they want their patent to be registered. Therefore, in certain cases, it might be more cost-effective and straight forward to apply directly at the national patent offices in the countries where you would want your patent to be registered.

Patent Translation

The Importance of Patent Translation Services

With the globalisation of markets, businesses increasingly seek patent protection in multiple countries. This is where patent translation services come into play. Patent translation involves translating the content of the patent application from one language to another. For instance, a German to English patent translator would translate a patent application written in German into English.

Patent applications must be translated into the national language. Given the technical language and legal terminology used in patent applications, this can be a complex and time-consuming process (months). As such, engaging a professional patent translation service is often necessary to ensure accuracy and compliance with local requirements.

Patent translation is not just about translating words from one language to another. It also involves interpreting and conveying complex technical concepts and legal nuances. For example, the Chinese patent translation process will require a deep understanding of both the Chinese and English languages, the patent’s technical field, and the patent law in both jurisdictions.

How to Choose a Patent Translation Service

When choosing a patent translation service, there are several things to consider:

  • Expertise in the field of the patent: The translator should have a good understanding of the technical field of the patent.
  • Knowledge of patent law: The translator should be familiar with the patent law in both the source and target jurisdictions.
  • Quality assurance: Check if the translation service has a rigorous quality control process in place to ensure the accuracy of the translation.
  • Confidentiality: Ensure that the translation service can guarantee the confidentiality of your patent application.
  • Cost-effectiveness: While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest service, it is important to consider the potential cost of an inaccurate translation, such as a rejected patent application or a patent dispute.

Patents are a crucial aspect of protecting your business’s intellectual property. They safeguard your inventions and give you the exclusive right to profit from them. However, navigating the patent process, especially when seeking protection in multiple countries, can be a complex task. Patent translation services are critical in this process, ensuring that your patent applications are accurately translated and comply with local requirements.

Whether you need a German to English patent translator or a Chinese patent translation service, it is essential to choose a reputable and experienced provider to ensure your intellectual property rights are fully protected.

Patent Meaning in Business Context

In the business world, a patent grants a company or enterprise the right to prohibit others (businesses and people) from producing, selling, using, or importing a particular invention for a specified period of time, typically 20 years. Patents can provide a company with a competitive edge in the market and also be licensed to other companies for additional income. Therefore, patent translation is essential for any company operating in the global market.

Intellectual Property Solicitors and Their Role

Intellectual property solicitors play a crucial role in the patent application process. They provide advice on a range of issues related to intellectual property, including how to protect your invention, whether your invention is likely to be granted a patent, and what type of patent application you should file. They also play a key role in dealing with any legal issues that arise during the patent application process, such as opposition or disputes. Intellectual property solicitors can also assist with enforcing patent rights, such as taking legal action against an infringer.

European Intellectual Property Services

When it comes to patent applications in Europe, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, there are the European intellectual property services. The EPO (European Patent Office) provides a single application process for individuals and businesses seeking patent protection in as many as 44 countries. The EPO grants patents in English, French, or German, which must then be translated into the national language of the Member State to be confirmed there.

Why Licence Translation Matters

Licence translation is an important aspect of intellectual property protection. If a company decides to licence its patent to another company in a different country, the licence agreement must be translated. This ensures that both parties fully understand the terms of the agreement, preventing future disputes and disagreements.

Conclusion: Patent Translation in a Nutshell

Navigating the world of patents can be complex, but understanding the basics, such as intellectual property, defining a patent, understanding what a patent cooperation treaty means, and recognising the importance of patent translation, can go a long way in protecting your business’s innovations. With the right support from intellectual property solicitors and patent translation services, companies can confidently step into the international marketplace, fully armed to protect their most precious asset – their intellectual property.

This comprehensive guide aims to provide a basic understanding of patents and the critical role of translation in the patent application process. However, each business’s needs and circumstances are unique. Therefore, seeking professional advice tailored to your situation is always advisable.

So, are you ready to take the next step in protecting your business’s inventions and innovations? Don’t let language barriers stand in the way of your success. Leverage our professional patent translation services and let us handle the complexities of patent translation for you. Protect your intellectual property globally and unlock the full potential of your business.

Contact us today and find out how we can support your business’s journey towards global expansion. Remember, your invention doesn’t stop at the border, and neither should your business.

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