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Access to Asian prior art

09 February 2012

EPO President Benoît BattistelliFollowing on from the first agreement on our machine translation programme, reached in November 2011 with the Chinese Patent Office (SIPO), this week in Tokyo I was very pleased to be able to sign a similar agreement with another major Asian office, the Japan Patent Office (JPO).
Japan and Japanese users have always played an important role in patents, and the EPO has long enjoyed an extremely fruitful relationship with them. Since the EPO first started, back in the late 70′s, Japanese users have always figured prominently amongst our applicants. Last year, they filed nearly 47 000 European patent applications (12% more than in 2010), thus maintaining their second-place ranking whilst increasing their share of the total (from 18% to 19%). Several Japanese firms, such as Panasonic, Sharp, NEC, Toyota and Mitsubishi, regularly feature amongst our biggest applicants. Japanese users can also directly designate the EPO as a PCT searching and examining authority.

Considering the number of national patent applications filed every year in Japan (around 350 000), it is of the utmost importance to improve access to Japanese prior art, and thus the completeness and quality of our search reports. But more generally, given that over one million national applications altogether are filed each year at Asia’s three biggest offices – in China, Japan and Korea – it is also clear that one of our main challenges in the next few years is to overcome the language barriers which thwart access to Asia’s technological information for the public at large.

The machine translation programme launched by the EPO at the end of 2010 will include 28 European languages but also the language pairs English, German and French with each of the three Asian languages just mentioned, plus Russian. We have already signed two major agreements with the SIPO and JPO, and started to build the Chinese-English and Japanese-English corpora. Our objective is to make them both available on our website, free of charge and 24/7, by mid-2013.

Benoît Battistelli
President

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3 comments on Access to Asian prior art

  1. Alexandre says:

    Bonne nouvelle, surtout si le service sera disponible à la date promise, sinon plus tôt.

    - Est-ce que l’on pourra aussi avoir des traductions de documents PCT publiés en langues ZH ou JP, ou ce système sera limité aux demandes nationales issues de ces pays? (Les demandeurs ont tenance à étoffer les demande lors du deuxième dépôt PCT, et ces dernières ne se retrouvent pas toujours traduites en phase régionale EP, voire US).

    - Est-ce qu’une traduction automatique produite par l’entremise d’Espacenet sera acceptée sous la règle 3(3) CBE?

    - Tant qu’à y être, pourquoi pas un accès en un clic au départ du document sous Espacenet vers le site du JPO, de KIPO, de CIPO, et pourquoi pas, vers celui de l’USPTO-PAIR (au prix du passage par l’infectissime CAPTCHA).

    • Moderator says:

      Thank you very much for your interesting comment! Please find the answers:
      Question: Est-ce qu’on pourra aussi avoir des traductions des documents PCT publiés en langues ZH ou JP, ou ce système sera limité aux demandes nationales issues de ces pays? (Les demandeurs ont tenance à étoffer les demande lors du deuxième dépôt PCT, et ces dernières ne se retrouvent pas toujours traduites en phase régionale EP, voire US).
      Answer: As a general remark please note that any result of a machine translated text can only serve purely informative purposes, the quality is “fit for purpose”; in the sense that it will enable a person skilled in the art to make an educated decision whether he needs a human translation. Machine translations can only be provided in Espacenet if the EPO has obtained the full text data and loaded it into its master databases. For the time being, it has full text data for PCT applications in English, French and German in Espacenet, so you could have the claims and descriptions translated into the target languages available (currently EN, FR, DE and Italian, Portuguese, Spanish). Whether it will also be possible to offer this for Chinese or Japanese PCT applications will depend on whether the EPO will obtain the corresponding full text data. Please note that you can retrieve English machine translations of PCT documents, also in Japanese, Chinese and Korean, via WIPO & Patentscope database at: http://www.wipo.int/patentscope/search/en/search.jsf
      Question:- Est-ce qu’une traduction automatique produite par “l’entremise”; Espacenet sera acceptée sous la règle 3(3) CBE?
      Answer: As stipulated in Rule 3 (3), documentary evidence may be filed in any language and the EPO may then require that a translation in one of the official languages be filed. The nature of this translation is not further specified in the EPC. However, according to EPC Rule 5, the EPO may require that a certificate that the translation corresponds to the original text be filed within a period to be specified. More information on this matter can also be found in Part I, Ch. VIII (Languages) of the EPO & “Guidelines for Examination”.
      Question: Tant qu’à y être, pourquoi pas un accès en un clic au départ du document sous Espacenet vers le site du JPO, de KIPO, de CIPO, et pourquoi pas, vers celui de l’USPTO-PAIR (au prix du passage par l’infectissime CAPTCHA).
      Answer: Thank you for your suggestion. Our Espacenet team will surely look into further options of deep linking to other databases or registers. For example, we have already introduced deep links from the European Patent Register to several national registers of EPC contracting states in autumn 2011. However, such links are of course a matter which needs to be negotiated with other offices. This is part of the cooperation policy of the EPO.

  2. Michael O'Keeffe says:

    Machine translation is like a red rag to a bull for many practitioners but I suggest a ‘Horses for Courses’ approach. Would you rather ignore all prior art out of non-English speaking [and publishing] countries or at least brouse whats out there for invalidating prior art ? Sure you cant use the result, as is, in proceedings, but for field where Asian technology is strong (chips, computers, cars, lithium ion batteries…) you could use the result of your (or an interns) browsing/screening to identify likly citable prior art and in having it translated, save a bundle on not translating nearly-but-not-quite citable prior art based on an englush abstract only seach. Machine translation may or may not ever ‘get there’ but surely a ‘cite US patents only’ approach is myopic ?

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