The figure of a translator is singular, but translator profiles are infinite. We could say that in the language provision service industry the majority of the activity is essentially aimed at localising content between different markets and between their different languages and cultures. However, the fact that we can include these activities in the field of translation does not means that all of them follow the same frameworks and are regulated by the same parameters. This is partly due to the large number of existing areas of specialisation. For example, the most common are legal translation, scientific translation, technical translation, advertising translation, and so on. However, the list is becoming increasingly long as new market niches and novel technologies are developed, and many types of translation are complementary with each other, sometimes forming a multidisciplinary area. Such is the case of intellectual property, or IP, translation.

Thanks to the progress of science and technology, we are witnessing endless new creations intended to make our lives easier, safer and more efficient. Each of these inventions falls within a specific field of knowledge, such as those mentioned above, but they often additionally require legal protection that grants the inventors a series of exploitation rights to prevent others from using them without the inventors consent. Intellectual property and patents fall within this context. These documents make up a certificate or right. This is why they include not only textual material relating to the field of the invention, but also legal and specific IP terminology. Likewise, intellectual property translation entails great responsibility, and any mistake in the translation process could lead to fines or invalidity of the patent, which can seriously affect the patent proceeding.

For this reason, both translation agencies and individual clients must have a clear idea of what to look for in a professional who will translate the patent documents: applications, in-depth examinations, responses to the patent office, set of claims, etc. So, what should the profile of a professional specialising in IP translation look like?

Firstly, we must mention training. Currently, there are international standards that describe which qualities a translator must have in order to accredit a certain level of quality. Essentially, it calls for a degree in higher translation studies, a degree in higher education in any subject area and, undoubtably, proven practical experience in translation. IP requires professionals with specialised experience and who, above all, welcome continued training in this speciality, since it is an industry that progresses quickly.

Of course, as well as mastering the language pairs offered by the interlanguage services, IP translators must master the terminology of the industry, and be sensitive to the language used in the translations, since any variation in meaning in this type of text can completely change the scope of protection. A well-known example is that of a patent application relating to cloning cells in animals. The German version used the word Tier and the French version used Bête, both referring exclusively to animals and not humans, while in English the word animal was used, which does include humans. In this case, we can see how choice of terminology, although not highly specialised, can undermine the patent proceeding by claiming a completely different object.

Beyond anecdotes, IP translators must know how to correctly use translation tools and other relevant computer programs because they often work with high word counts for which a minimum level of quality must be guaranteed. CAT and verification tools are very useful for this purpose. In this article, we discuss some examples. Inaccuracies can be inherent to the first translation phase, and the patent translator must have access to all available resources to ensure that the final product has been fully verified.

That is why it is very important for translation agencies to check these aspects in potential profiles when looking at CVs or doing test translations. With regards to clients, it is essential to make sure you work with specialised companies, particularly if the quality provided by their services is recognised by a competent organisation.

At Montero Language Services, we have developed the Montero IP solution to help all our clients carry out all the interlinguistic tasks required by patent proceedings and other requirements associated with the creation, protection and exploitation of all types of innovative products.


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