09 February 2012
Following 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.
Categories: International co-operation
Tags: Asia, Chinese PAtent Office, European Patent Office, innovation, intellectual property, Japanese companies, Japanese firms, Japanese Patent Office, JPO, Korea, Korean Patent Office, machine-translation, Patent protection, patents, prior-art, SIPO, technological information