For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Rospatent makes it three-in-a-bed for Patent Translate

The IPKat has read with fascination of the agreement which the European Patent Office (EPO) and its Russian counterpart Rospatent have signed in order to "facilitate innovation" by cooperating in the mechanical translation of patents. The EPO press-release (presumably there is a mechanically-translated Russian text too) reads as follows, in relevant part:
"The EPO and the Federal Service for Intellectual Property (Rospatent) have agreed to enhance co-operation in the promotion of innovation by enabling machine translation of patents from and into Russian. Under the Agreement ..., Rospatent and the EPO will exchange full-text versions of patent documents in Russian and English to create bilingual text corpora for use in the free Patent Translate service [that's the EPO's love-child, from its relationship with Google] on the EPO's website.

"For the first time in the history of the European patent system Russian-language patents will be made available to the users This agreement breaks new ground in the relationship between the EPO and Russia," said EPO President Benoît Battistelli. "It will bring the wealth of technology contained in patents to the fingertips of innovators in both our regions, removing language as a delimiting factor," he said [Gosh, says Merpel, how have inventors and innovators ever managed before, without all that groundbreaking fingertip business?].

"The information function of patents cannot be rated high enough [Really? Then how come the most inventive folk in the ICT sector keep telling us that there are so many patents out there that it's neither cost-effective nor even technically worthwhile reading them? Aren't they only fit for cross-licensing or mischievously selling to the trolls?]. Innovation is a global market [no it's not -- it's a process which may, if we're lucky, help to establish and develop a market], and by making their respective collections of patent documents accessible to researchers, scientists and inventors in Russian and English, the EPO and Rospatent significantly contribute to strengthening the innovation process both in their regions and at worldwide level. Especially small and medium-sized enterprises [Aha, says Merpel: this is the usual lip-service to SMEs in paragraph three of the press release], as well as research institutions, stand to benefit from this improved access to information on new technologies," President Battistelli stated.

"This agreement will facilitate the filing of patent applications by Russian companies in the rest of Europe and by European companies in Russia," said Boris Simonov, Director General of Rospatent. "This in turn will lead to further innovation in our two regions."

The enhanced relationship between Russia and the EPO is reflected in the trends in recent filing figures. For example, applications filed by companies from EPO member states with the Russian patent office saw an increase by approximately 10% from 2010 to 2011. The number of applications filed by Russian inventors and companies at the EPO in 2011 was up 19% on the previous year [while percentages without basic numbers can easily mislead, these do at least look encouraging -- and that's without the benefits of the new agreement]".
The IPKat is not averse to the cooperation of the EPO and/or Rospatent on technical matters such translations, and indeed is even inclined to welcome it -- but he does wish that cooperation of this nature was not garnished with rhetoric and wild generalisations about IP and innovation that detracts from, rather than supports, the institutional achievements of patent administering bodies.  They can mislead, raise expectations beyond the point at which they can be fulfilled and also make it more difficult for policy-makers to establish priorities within each sector in which intellectual property administrations interface with the world of business and commerce [he must be thinking of the European Observatory again, muses Merpel].

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