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How I passed the NIPTA examination for patent translators – part 1

In October 2017 the NIPTA (Intellectual Property translation association of Japan) translation exam (more information here) for translators of Intellectual Property took place. Magnificently five of our translators passed the test. Four of them passed the English exam and one the German exam as the only successful candidate in the country.

A successful translator shared his experience and we will introduce his thoughts in this article and hope this will also help you understand the motivation and operating principles of our translators. It might also be helpful for future examinees.

Comment of Mr. Hiroyuki Omata, successful examine of the English to Japanese translation exam hardest level >

Why I decided to take the test

Fortunately, I had been working as an in-house translator in a patent firm with a stable workload together with attorneys, technical experts, and other translators until now.

As such work conditions are ideal for patent translators I had never considered changing jobs and therefore had no interest in external certification as a translator such as this exam.

I was under the impression that after working as a professional translator for several years that at this point a certification as a “professional translator” obtained through a paid exam would only benefit the examination agency.

However, when considering the future, I started thinking that it would not be a bad idea to be accredited as translator from a third party.

Also as transeuro, inc. is still not a very well-known company, I figured that it could be helpful for our reputation if several translators are listed on the official NIPTA list of accredited translators and so finally got moving and paid the examination fee just before the deadline.

Comments about the exam

It is obvious but as a patent translator with wealthy experience, this intellectual property translation exam is pretty easy to master. Compared to the kind of texts I deal with at work, the exam questions were relatively easy and straightforward. Considering the difficulty of the exam and the fact that many of our translators already passed it, I strongly believe that all our translators have skills that exceed the hardest level of the exam. Based on that I can say that the skill level of the transeuro, inc. translators is above average for patent translation services.

About the exam problems

There is one exam problem each about patent claims, prior art and embodiments. As I heard from Mr. Hamaguchi from the NIPTA, they choose 3 different technical subfields from the main fields of the examination (electronics, mechanics, chemistry, biochemistry) for the exam problems to avoid bias.

In the field that I chose for the examination, electronic engineering, the first problem (patent claims) was in the field of information processing, which is a field I enjoy a lot. Although it was one of my favorite fields the exam problem was about “acoustic fingerprints” which I had never encountered in my work previously. It took me a while to research the technical structure after I received the exam question, therefore not being used to such exams I couldn’t manage my time properly. I wanted to print my translation out to check it on paper, but in the limited exam time of 3 hours, I could only manage a check on the screen.

Even someone like me that is confident in their translation speed, became a little flustered.


For passing the exam time management is essential

For passing the exam time management is essential

Reflecting on this I realized that as a patent translator you always have to be up-to-date with the most recent technology developments and registered for a yearly subscription of the Nikkei Electronics magazine right after the exam was over.

The second problem (prior art) was about laser application technique and the third one (embodiments) was about MRI, both fields I am used to. Therefore I was able to translate calmly. Someone that doesn’t know the special terms associated with MRI such as “gradient magnetic field” or “shim coil” would have had to spend time on looking them up.

Advice for future examinees

If you take the exam in your field of expertise your daily work should be enough preparation. I think it is also important to not only understand the technology that we work on but also stay up-to-date with a broad range of new technologies. In translation business, you also have to deal with urgent request of your clients and translate them timely and correctly. Therefore I again realized that as a patent or technical translator you have to be willing to keep on learning about new technologies every day. That is also a reason why I am glad I took the exam.


As a patent translator you have to keep learning about new technologies

As a patent translator you have to keep learning about new technologies

How do you like Mr. Omata’s comment? The next NIPT examination is on April 22nd and another will be held later this year. Details can be found on the NIPTA homepage. Feel free to contact us for questions about the exam or our translation service.

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