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2020.04.30

Patent translation

Working As A Patent Translator During A State Of Emergency (2)


Unlike translation companies that primarily employ freelance translators, transeuro has an active roster of over 30 full-time translators, who were by no means all working remotely from the very beginning of their employment.

Most of them belonged to our predecessor organization, which was a German Law and Patent firm. Four years ago, around the time when we first founded transeuro, they all continued working in the office as they had before. However, we later gradually phased into remote work for those who desired it, and two years ago when we finalized our move from Marunouchi to Kanda, almost all of our translators switched over to working remotely.

It’s because of these prior circumstances that, even during a state of emergency like the one we find ourselves in now, we are able to continue our work as normal, with basically no adverse effect on the way our translators do work.

A Variety Of Translators For Different Languages, Language Directions, and Fields Of Specialization

It’s difficult to lump all transeuro translators together, as they can be sorted into various categories according to the language(s) they translate, the direction they translate in, and their field of specialization.

The main languages we deal with are of course Japanese, English, and German, but there are a wide variety of translators, such as ones who translate German and English into Japanese, those who translate Japanese into German or English, bidirectional translators who can go in either direction, and German-English or English-German translators.

And in terms of specializations, we have people with expertise in fields such as electricity, machinery, and chemistry as well.

All of them have many years of experience in the German Law and Patent firm that was our predecessor organization, where they translated the likes of patent specifications from foreign countries (such as Germany), office actions like notices of reasons for rejection and decisions of final rejection, and cited references.

We have employees who have been engaged in translation even before the spread of the Internet. These employees have assertively sought to better themselves and gain new skills by sinking hours into reading specialized technical documents. They would often head to Jimbocho, a district of Tokyo famous for used books, and scour the stores for rare technical tomes.

To this day, transeuro still has a vast collection of books which we consider to be our company treasure. Back then, newcomers to the field learned the craft of patent translation by pairing up with a senior colleague who would teach them how to properly research and provide advice and guidance via corrections. Because of this practice, we’ve been able to continuously pass down translation know-how from generation to generation.

Transeuro’s Translators Are Better Thought Of As Technical Experts With Translation Skills

I’ve noticed more and more ever since we officially became a translation company that there is a big difference between translators who work in a patent firm and those who don’t (meaning freelance translators who deliver their product to a translation company).

That difference is that while patent firm in-house translators work together with patent attorneys in order to create a final product catered towards the Japan Patent Office, freelance translators in general seem to lean more towards doing work geared for the translation company to which they’re submitting the document.

This is of obvious, of course, as freelance translators are not in a position to ignore the requests of the translation company to which they’re submitting their work. However, in the case of in-house patent translators, they are dealing directly with the Patent Office, so they naturally adopt a stance of working for the Patent Office.

I think the translators of transeuro who hail from our patent firm days demonstrate this best and should rather be considered “technical experts with excellent translation skills”. For example, there are cases where we receive a rejection for a reason that has to do with the translation, as stipulated under the Patent Law Art. 36, Para. 6, Item 2. As is very common with German technical terms, there are often expressions which are unique to the German language and simply have no Japanese counterpart.

Moreover, not all patent examiners are the same, so the same expression may result in the going through in one case and being labeled as “unclear” in another. Due to years of plentiful experience gained working alongside the Patent Office, we are constantly working hard to provide the most optimal translation for our clients every time. If we were to describe this using control technology terminology, we practice what you would call “closed loop system” translation.

When it comes to translating German words which are not in the Japanese language, we avoid using easy translations which run the risk of restricting the scope of the rights, and instead aim to create a translation that respects it. Those efforts might have paid off, as the Working Group of the Japan Patent Office’s 2nd Examination Department has garnered an interest in unique German technical terms in recent years and has begun research on the matter. Transeuro’s CEO Yuki Kato also greatly contributed by lending his German translation knowledge to this project and the result of said research is going to see significant application in future examinations.

In last year’s Patent Magazine #12, the same Working Group published an overview of their research findings titled “Essays Regarding Technical Terminology Stemming From The German Language” and this work served to bring awareness of this issue to many people in the Intellectual Property field both within and outside of the Japan Patent Office. We felt that our uncompromising and principled attitude towards patent translation was truly recognized.

Transeuro Is Devoted To High Quality Human Translation

In short, the patent translators of transeuro are engaging in translation based on know-how that has been tempered in the overcoming of a great deal of trials and experiences.

What’s more is, we’ve sent these translators to work from home only after training them with the necessary skills. Assigning them to work remotely was not an abrupt decision made only because the job of a translator lends itself well to working from home.

It’s true that, provided you have a computer and a secure network, anyone can create a home-office environment instantly suitable for telecommuting, but at transeuro we only send our translators out after they’ve received proper guidance and education in translation, and after we’ve deemed them to be capable of standing entirely on their own.

Although we live in a time when the internet allows for the majority of the research process to be carried out at home, researching all the way back to prior arts to fully understand the corresponding technology is a task which requires a substantial amount of effort. Also, a translator must painstakingly examine the meaning of all relevant terminology, word by word, in order to prevent deviation from the scope of rights. The burden, both physical and mental, exerted on the translator during this process is a grave one.

So, the idea of elegantly doing our work with a cup of coffee in one hand is quite far removed from the reality of working remotely as a translator. On the contrary, it is a battle of endurance and patience.

It is to that great extent that we dedicate ourselves to producing high-quality human translation. If we failed to do that, we would lose not only the DNA we worked so hard to cultivate, but also the very value of and reason for transeuro’s existence.

Facing the current coronavirus crisis, many patent agencies and corporate intellectual property departments are perhaps also implementing remote working policies. With regards to the Intellectual Property industry, which has overcome tribulations such as the 2008 financial crisis and the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, the future is as yet unclear.

What is clear, is that in such times of uncertainty those companies will want more than ever to have a translation company whose high-quality work they can rely on. Now that you’re acquainted with the unique “DNA” of our company, we ask that you take this opportunity to try transeuro’s patent translation services.

Translations of not only patent specifications, but also notices of reasons for rejection and other post-application procedures are all our speciality. Our greatest hope is to become your reliable “go-to” translation company.

Transeuro supports remote working measures worldwide.

A first-time order discount will be applied to all first orders. For patent translations, we also offer a free trial service. Feel free to contact us via our contact form.

We wish you continued good health and safety.


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