Patent Translation: The Best-kept Secret

Readers who have paid translation providers good money for (sometimes) good patent translations might wonder about this title, but many Japanese companies paying excessively high rates to their domestic Japanese patent counsel “to file overseas” for them (something which most Japanese law firms are not actually legally able to do) are often allowed to believe that the process of filing overseas in a non-Japanese language involves not translation, but rather “creation” or “production” of a patent specification in a foreign language, perhaps by some process that is mysterious to or otherwise unknowable by the client. The process is, of course, called translation, but more money can be billed for “creation” or “production.”

If the Japanese client is sometimes oblivious to the translation process, the process of filing an application with the USPTO is inherently divorced from and completely ignores the translation process. Submitted patent specifications are in English, as are declarations by inventors swearing that the inventions described therein are theirs. Not a word about translation.

In spite of the above realities, behind almost 100% of the applications to the USPTO for patents are translators, be they in-house at patent translators in Japanese patent firms (sometimes temporary employees hired from agencies) engaged in the business of translation, or outside patent translation providers engaged by either filing clients or Japanese patent firms.  “Creation” or “production” is not a part of this process.

Client education is starting to take hold, however, and numerous Japanese company have finally come to their senses and have begun to cut out the translation broker function of their Japanese patent counsel.  It is a slow process, however, as Japanese patent firms are highly reluctant to give up their translation business, one that is arguably more profitable than brokering the services of US patent attorneys in filing for their clients.  Things may change, but not without courageous decisions on the part of Japanese clients and considerable efforts on the part of translation providers.

About Kirameki Translations, Inc.

Kirameki Translations, Inc. is a patent translation boutique that has, along with its predecessors, been providing translations since 1978. Our clients are major Japanese manufacturers, law firms, and patent firms, and US law firms. Unlike translation brokers, we were founded and are run by translators.
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