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There are several actors in the process of translating patent documents, and they all have an important role to play, as Duygu Ergunes of Valitra Intellectual Property Services explains.
Translation is considered to be one of the most important parts of the patent validation process. If you search through websites of patent companies, you will come across articles written on the importance of translations. I share the same idea, but I doubt whether this situation is well understood.
I am a chemist and I’ve been working as a patent attorney since 2010, translating patents since 2012. I will explain the importance of, and problems related to, translations during validation procedures from my point of view. It seems there are two main reasons that accurate translations are so crucial: translations allow inventors to protect their inventions outside their home countries, and they provide a massive amount of technical information to the public free of charge.
When patents are validated in Turkey, inventions are protected by translated documents, not by original applications. So, it’s essential to provide accurate translations to the patent office. This can be achieved via translators and patent attorneys. All translations should be proofread and reviewed by a patent attorney, and this is one of the points where a serious issue arises. In Turkey, patent attorneys do not need to hold a technical degree. So, when it comes to reviewing and proofreading the translated patent documents, not all patent attorneys are equally qualified for the task. When a person without a technical degree proofreads a translation, they may not have the technical knowledge they need.
Another issue resulting in inaccurate translation is the lack of extensive technical dictionaries. Sometimes translators have to search the web for books, dissertations, academic papers, etc, in order to find a proper translation for technical terms. However, translation agencies and patent companies often set a very tight turnaround time for projects, so translators may skip this time-consuming step. Technical translation is not a profitable job in Turkey so many qualified technical people avoid it as a profession and those who do enter the profession often work long hours in order to make a living, and may feel pressure to skip this important step.
While I was working as a patent attorney in a pharmaceutical company, I preferred to read patents in English instead of Turkish due to poor translations. Reading original patents in English is not an option for people in Turkey who don’t have the language skills needed. This is a huge disadvantage, because patent documents have the potential to provide a massive amount of technical information.
Improving the process
Although I have encountered some companies in Turkey that handle validation and translation procedures successfully, I think there are some measures that should be taken in order to improve translation procedures across the board. First, companies should take the responsibility for protecting inventions very seriously and acknowledge the risks and dangers associated with inaccurate translations. Second, companies should put an extra effort into hiring qualified translators and patent attorneys with technical knowledge. Last but not least, patent companies should establish their own client-based or technical field-based glossaries with the help of computer-aided translation (CAT) tools. These glossaries can be provided to the translators, which would make the process faster.
Translators play a central role in accurate patent translations. Translators should respect their work and try to find ways to prepare more comprehensible and technically correct translated texts with a special focus on consistency. Investing in their work, for example by using CAT tools, may help them achieve this goal. They should also stand up to translation and patent agencies that undervalue and undercompensate their work.
Foreign companies seeking to work with Turkish agencies to obtain validation translations should be careful about the whole process. I would advise them to consider how much a translator will earn for the validation translation. Translators may earn far less money when there are many intermediaries before translations reach them. This probably means that the translator will be less qualified and the translation may suffer.
As an insider in the validation translation industry, I have shared my insights into why and how translations for validations should be improved. To protect the full scope of inventions with accurate and precise translations, to contribute to spreading technical knowledge, all the actors in the process—including foreign patent agencies, local patent agencies and translators—must recognise the real value of translations. Then they should carry their share of the responsibility to enhance translation quality.
Duygu Ergunes is founder of Valitra Intellectual Property Services. She is a chemist and has been working as a patent attorney since 2011. She has experience in patents, patent translations, utility models and trademarks. Ergunes founded the firm in 2017. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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