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Machine Translation for Patents in the Age of Innovation

NMT for patent translation checklist

Originally posted on the KantanMT blog on January 31, 2022

MT becomes a game changer in relation to patent translations.


We are living in an age of innovation; the digital revolution now fuelled by Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the areas experiencing more entrepreneurship and growth. The health sector is also booming, and not only because the pandemic has pushed researchers all over the the world to create medicines that can help with the escalation and effects of COVID 19, but also because more technology applied to health care and, in many cases, supported by AI, is being created on an on-going basis. Finally, with many of the strongest economies in the world invested in the fight against climate change, new inventions with sustainability at their core are mushrooming around the world.

These are exciting times for companies and individuals specialized in IP translation, as all new inventions need to be patented in different global markets. Patent translation is a very specialized activity that requires experienced translators who are also subject matter experts (SMEs). Patent translation can relate to many content types, and most of them are highly niche or specialized.

Some of the industries that require patent translations:

  • Chemistry
  • Pharma
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Biotechnology
  • Medical devices
  • Mechanics
  • Electronics
  • Telecommunications
  • Information technology
  • Renewable Energy

What is a patent?


According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention. Such invention can be a product or a process that provides a new way of performing a task or a new technical solution to a problem. To be able to patent such invention, the details of the creation of the product or service need to be made available to the public.

Once this is done, the inventors will have protection in relation to the commercial use and distribution of the product or service. The exclusive rights are solely applicable in the country where the patent has been filed; therefore, to be able to commercialize it globally, the invention needs to be filed in different regions and here is where translation comes into place.

Translation of patents require unique skills; in many cases, translators or post-editors need to be subject matter experts (SMEs), given the high specialization of the patent content. Also, translators and post-editors need to be versed in the way patens are written and formatted.

Some Patent translation guidelines

  • The translation needs to be very close to the source, it needs to be quite literal.
  • Patents usually have very long and complicated sentences with multiple sub-clauses; the translation needs to follow the original structure of the sentences.
  • The translation of the terms included in the patent need to be consistent throughout the body of text.
  • When post-editing patent content, post-editors need to be very aware of possible additions and / or omissions, especially in relation to numbers, formulas, bullet points, section numbers, etc.

Patents and Machine Translation


Machine translation (MT) is a very useful tool when it comes to patents; in conjunction with post-editing (MTPE) can be used to translate original patents into different languages to file it across the world. MT can be also used as a support tool for IP teams who need to get information related to similar inventions created in different locales, and to translate prior art and office action documents. KantanMT has a large experience creating and training machine translation systems that can successfully translate patent content. If you would like more information about this, you can contact us at sales@kantanai.io.

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