Sorry for the acronym string. I couldn’t resist.

MIP (Managing Intellectual Property) is a trade journal out of London that does a good job of providing global coverage. They have a free newsletter called MIP Week, which is perfect for people like me, who want to stay abreast but are too cheap and lazy to read the whole magazine.

Yesterday they had more on a story that they originally reported in April — specifically, a translation breakthrough for Community Patents. The idea is to start granting European patents, without demanding that applicants provide translations into all 23 official languages. People wanting to read the patent could then use a proposed MT (machine translation) system. Interestingly, MIP reports that the translations would have no legal value, and that for the 1% of patents that are litigated (man, that’s a lot of litigated patents) human translations would prevail.

I can certainly imagine some juicy courtroom arguments when they start litigating patents without predetermined translations. It also makes me wonder about enforcement. If I spent money developing something that my research (reading MTed patents at the EPO) told me is not protected, and then I got sued for infringement because it turns out the MT translation was inaccurate, I would certainly feel mistreated. If my due diligence is expected to extend to procuring an accurate translation by myself, then the EPO is transferring translation costs to industry. If, on the other hand, due diligence doesn’t extend that far, why should I be penalized?

In any case, it should be fun. It makes me wish I were a European legal translator.

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