Thursday, 6 January 2011

Patent Translation Industry

So I've just come across this rather old article

http://www.euractiv.com/en/innovation/eu-seeks-break-patent-translation-deadlock-news-495842

It gives a breakdown of the costs of translating patents, and some of the suggested solutions. It doesn't cover Chinese to English, as it focuses on the big three of English, French and German, but it's interesting.

I've been doing quite a lot of patent work lately, and my experience seems to be that the volume of work is increasing. One of the suggestions for handling the EU problem is machine translation, but that will never work for Chinese to English. (Chinese to English machine translations are hillarious but totally unintelligable for anything technical or formal).

I certainly think that patent costs are totally excessive at the moment, costing up to 20k GBP for a single European patent. That amount would certainly discourage me from paying a patent. But...

Here's where I start to smell a rat. If you look at any area of industry, one of the most understood things is that its efficient to have those who pay more, pay more and those who can't pay more, pay less. That's why we have DVD regions, an Asian consumer might not be able to pay 20GBP for a DVD, while it's only a couple of hours pay in the UK, so the Asian DVDs are sold cheaper, and the regions are put on them to stop the Asian DVD's getting sold in the UK, forcing us to pay the higher amount.

The same principle applies for first class travel. The extra costs of the leg room etc, are really not that great, and the main thing first class does, is to ensure that people who can easily pay 2k for flight to New York do so, leaving the rest of us to pay somewhat less.

So why is there no discussion of this in the patent arena. With large companies (APPLE for example) paying maybe 100k for their patents, which usually bring them hundreds of millions in profits, and smaller and medium companies paying less.

Of course that will never happen because the large companies have too much control over everything. Still... we can but hope

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