Tag Archives: IP Translations @ko

Science or Art? Accurate IP Translations Need Both, Says Coombs

UnknownJeremy Coombs, senior vice president of operations at MultiLing, recently posted an article about the debate of science vs. art in IP translations on the GALA blog.

“Is translation a creative process or simply the cold “one-to-one” transformation of words from one language to another? In my experience, art wins out in most debates,” wrote Coombs.

However, specific texts, such as intellectual property documents that are very scientific in nature, will require precision and exactness. Coombs wonders if Einstein and Shakespeare can meet and whether science and art can coexist.

“When we consider translation from the perspective of science, we see many theories and models that attempt to explain communication,” continued Coombs. “For example, the Shannon and Weaver model conceptualizes communication (and translation, by extension), as a process of encoding a source message and transmitting this message to a receiver, which then decodes the message. The success of this process is determined by the receiver’s understanding of the source message.”

However,all writing is a creative process and when representing an invention, word choice is key. Coombs believes that the most skilled translators possess both the mind of a scientist and the heart of an artist. Interestingly, in the patent realm when someone understands the science behind an invention they are said to be skilled in the art.

“Authors and translators learn the preferences of their audience and adapt their art and tools appropriately—including adopting technology tools such as terminology management software to ensure consistency across a team of translators.

“Invention and translation. Both processes require the thorough weaving of art and science. Leonardo da Vinci would be proud,” concluded Coombs.

Jeremy Coombs is the senior vice president of operations at MultiLing, the innovative leader in intellectual property (IP) translations and related support services for foreign patent filings. He joined MultiLing in 1999 and has become one of the company’s principal operations and technology minds. In his current role, he manages large-scale translation and localization projects for companies such as Dell, LSI Corporation, Qlogic, Intuit, and GE Healthcare.



lyle ballI ran into a client at the airport not long ago and asked how things were going. I was pleased to hear his complete satisfaction with MultiLing services and our relationship. I asked if there was anything more we could work on and he replied tongue-in-cheek that maybe we could give his company a better price. I asked if he was sure — did he really want to pay less for something that was going so well and providing so much value? Recognizing the impact his wish could have, he quickly agreed that he really didn’t want to pay less.

Price versus quality is an ongoing tension in most business relationships and in this IP Frontline article, titled “The Real Cost of Accurate IP Translations,” I outline several ways MultiLing clients receive value from accurate translations—far beyond the words on the page.


With global patent activity increasing, especially to and from Asian language markets, translation errors in patent applications are increasingly wreaking havoc

Companies of all sizes value the need to file patents in multiple jurisdictions to protect their IP, especially the resulting global revenue those patents generate. When it comes to obtaining quality translations necessary to file the patent in multiple foreign jurisdictions, however, many filers are shocked by the costs and disappointed that this expense will likely limit the scope of their filing strategy.

The problem with this view is perspective. As I shared recently at the IP and Innovation Summit 2014 in China, there’s a strong case for how investing in accurate quality translations can actually increase global IP protection and revenue, while reducing the overall cost of patent ownership.

With global patent activity increasing, especially to and from Asian language markets, translation errors in patent applications are increasingly wreaking havoc on both the prosecution process and enforcing the patent—and often the weaknesses do not surface for many years, which creates a ticking time bomb in your patent portfolio. To support this fact, three countries the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) reports as having the most patent applications received—China, the United States and Japan—are also home to the three languages recently reported as having the most patent errors related to translation. According to a study published in November 2013 by the Steinbeis-Transfer-Institute Intellectual Property Management of Munich, translating to Asian languages from Western languages, and vice versa, represents the most difficult translations.

The Steinbeis study further revealed that 80 percent of people directly involved in patent filing have also dealt with translation errors, a statistic confirmed by a show of hands of audience members at the presentation in China. How did translation errors impact the cost of patents? Again, according to Steinbeis, the cost of translation errors came from:

  • Waiting longer for a patent to be granted due to office actions,
  • The latent risk of an unenforceable patent,
  • Additional internal and external costs,
  • The disappointing result of having to limit the number of patents filed due to unexpected costs that exceed budget.

The dilemma is real: Accurate translations are imperative, not just nice to have, and yet the cost of accurate translations can also limit the jurisdictions where an inventor can file.

Transition to a Streamlined Translation Model

The answer to this no-win scenario is a new model for defining and producing quality IP translations—a model that enables filers to better manage and reduce the overall cost of their patent portfolio, while improving scientific and legal accuracy.

Traditionally, original patent applications are sent to regional law firms for “processing,” which includes translation as one of the filing services. Patent owners have little say in the cost and quality of translation. Law firms rarely—if ever—have enough translation business to maintain an active pool of translators and reviewers with sufficient scientific and local market expertise, or to invest in technology to enhance this process. In addition, their translators have little capacity to interact with translators in other jurisdictions or directly with the client. The translation results regularly prompt office actions due to translation errors and clarity issues, increase the risk of litigation and create inconsistency across multiple language translations of the same patent. No wonder the costs are high. Yet, the Steinbeis study concludes that half of all organizations still use this traditional model for foreign patent filing and another 34 percent use this model in conjunction with other processes.

Fifteen years ago, MultiLing worked with one of its largest enterprise clients, Procter & Gamble, to overhaul this process. The result is a centralized, streamlined process for patent translation that can be applied to Global 500 legal teams and is being adopted, by both legal teams and patent translation service providers, as a superior method for creating quality and efficiency. Essentially, patent translation is managed by one translation company, with global operations centralized by technology and is performed at the beginning of the application process. This allows for several benefits:

  • Law firms and foreign agents can focus on legal work,
  • Clients receive quality translations from translators who are not only highly skilled in language, but also have technical expertise in the client’s field,
  • Clients benefit from technology investments that improve translation process, quality and security, and create efficiencies over time with terminology management and translation memories.

As an example, MultiLing has been able to invest more than $10 million in its technology solutions – an amount no single translator or foreign agent contracting with translators would likely afford.

Another MultiLing client, a manufacturing company in Japan, believed it could improve how its IP department operated. Its stated goals were to eliminate office actions related to translation, reduce the patent time-to-grant by three months and reduce the total cost of owning the patents by 10 percent. After six months of incorporating MultiLing’s streamlined model for translation, the company had filed 183 patents in eight jurisdictions. Twelve translators had translated 2 million characters and contributed 5,200 terms to the manufacturer’s database. Results attributable to MultiLing’s translation process and quality were:

  • The elimination of translation and clarity-related office actions,
  • Time to grant was reduced by six months—double the goal,
  • The company’s total cost of patent ownership was reduced by 30 percent—three times the goal.

Quality Qualifications

The final element critical to any translation model is quality. Several criteria must be met for an IP translation to be considered high quality and these criteria go far beyond words with the requisite technical and scientific accuracy. Quality IP translations support:

  • Project timelines with reduced office actions and faster time to grant,
  • Project budgets with a lower total cost of ownership for patent strategy at an enterprise or law firm,
  • Protection of your IP with the absence of opposition or invalidation of patents due to translation issues.

A streamlined translation model can address all these quality issues by eliminating the most frequent reasons translation errors happen in the first place. The people + process + technology equation available with a dedicated IP translation partner brings the skills of native-language scientists and engineers with a knowledge of patent prosecution. The workflow of document translation in a streamlined model includes agreeing on definitions of quality by all parties—basically, how accurate the client expects the work to be depending on the purpose of the translation—and a stringent quality control process. Finally, technologies create consistent translations to express the same idea and intent across multiple languages and documents, again helping to increase overall quality and eliminate the cost—in both time and money—of office actions and even the invalidation of the patent.

When you truly identify and budget for the real benefits, threats and costs of IP translations, such as those outlined above, a streamlined model for translation makes the most sense for any size company.

MultiLing Director Jeff Ranck On Getting More Bang For Your IP Buck

jeff ranckInside Counsel recently interviewed MultiLing board member Jeff Ranck about his experience as associate general counsel at Microsoft. While there, the company went from filing 1,000 patents per year to 3,000 per year. Realizing that this couldn’t be done by just adding more headcount, Ranck and his colleagues went to work revamping how their department operated and streamlining their patent filing processes.

A major initiative in the reorganization was to use outsource partners. However, they took a measured approach by identifying what work was best to outsource, identifying partners who could immediately provide value and who would grow with them.

Screen Shot 2014-01-09 at 10.16.54 AMAs an IP outsourcing company, MultiLing benefits from Ranck’s expertise in streamlining patent filing processes. In addition to its expert IP translations, MultiLing brings value to its clients by building streamlined processes that lower the total overall cost of patent ownership. The partnerships it builds with its customers grow to long-term relationships that benefit both MultiLing and its partners.

Read Part 1 of the Inside Counsel article here — Part 2 is coming soon.



IP Law Firms Offer Big-Client Benefits with Streamlined Translation

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 4.27.18 PMMultiLing’s Michael Degn examines how Brinks Gilson & Lione leveraged best practices in patent translation services to save a pharmaceutical client money, while increasing its scope of patent protection. The case study is published in the latest issue of IPPro Life Sciences (pg. 14).

Brinks worked with a small pharmaceutical client to successfully obtain European patent rights. The patent just needed to be validated in each country where the company wanted its rights preserved. The client initially felt it could afford to validate the patent in 10 countries (a handful of which required translation), but the initial quote from a foreign agent was significantly higher than the patentee believed it should invest. The client was concerned it would need to cut back on the number of countries in which it was seeking validation, consequently forgoing IP protection in those countries.

See the infographic below for how MultiLing successfully helped Brinks’ client stretch their budget for high quality IP translations in more jurisdictions than even originally planned.

Brinks case study infographic final



CEO Spotlight: GALA talks to MultiLing CEO Michael Sneddon

The Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) recently interviewed Michael Sneddon, MultiLing CEO, about what might have contributed to MultiLing’s growth over the past five years and plans to keep it going in the years ahead.

Here are a few of the questions:

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GALA: Michael, to what do you attribute MultiLing’s growth over the last few years?

Michael Sneddon, CEO of MultiLing Corp.Sneddon: We attribute MultiLing’s strong growth to a few things:

  1. Pivoting our strategy to focus marketing and sales efforts on the intellectual property (IP) market, instead of diluting it between IP and technical translations.
  2. The increased demand for IP translations from Global 500 enterprises in the United States, Europe and Asia, many spending millions of dollars per year on translating foreign patent filings. This increased focus on the IP space has required more understanding of the unique needs global enterprises face when aiming to protect their IP worldwide, as well as an enhanced ability to communicate how our unique streamlined translation model meets these needs.
  3. A stronger executive team that works together to make the right decisions for the company.

GALA: What challenges have come alongside strong growth for your company and how have you overcome those?

Sneddon: The increased request for our IP translation services over the past few years has required additional expert translators with specific language, scientific, engineering and legal skills, as well as project managers that also meet these needs. In addition, some of our largest clients (both new and long-term) have asked us to expand our services in specific countries in which they are increasing businesses, which in some cases has required new offices or expanded offices to prepare for the expected demand in the specific region. These requests require significant financial resources, and as a company with no debt whatsoever in an industry with long sales cycles, meeting these needs has sometimes been a challenge.

To overcome these challenges, we made the decision last summer to bring in an outside investor – Frontier Capital – so we could focus on increasing our sales and marketing channels worldwide, which includes expanded language teams as well as new sales and marketing executives that better understand the needs of Global 500 legal teams across the globe.

GALA: What major initiatives/goals are in your company’s near future?

Sneddon: With our new office in Taiwan and expanded offices in Japan, Korea and China, we’re specifically expanding our Asian region capacity to meet the IP translation needs of both global enterprises wanting to do business in these countries as well as Asian-based enterprises wanting to do business worldwide.

We’re also working to expand our service offerings throughout the United States, Europe and Latin America.

GALA: What excites you most about your company’s future?

Sneddon: What excites me most about MultiLing’s future is how we’re continuing to bring together the right people, processes and technologies to give our clients the quality legal translations they require. In fact, we’re increasingly seeing new business from existing long-term clients as they share their continued satisfaction with other divisions within their organizations.

GALA: What makes your company more than “just another” localization service provider?

Sneddon:  MultiLing focuses exclusively on IP translations and other foreign patent filing services, as opposed to broad translations. In addition, we combine the most qualified people (native speakers with advanced scientific/engineering degrees); the latest processes (centralized, streamlined) and the most recent and advanced technologies (terminology management, translation memory, machine-assisted translation and translation project management) to give our clients the high quality patent translations they require. Even more unique, we feel, is how we work closely with each client – many for more than a decade – to develop and refine best practices that work for them as well as the industry as a whole.

The full article is published in the Q3 2014 GALAxy Newsletter.

MultiLing Sponsors IP Service World

ipserviceworldToday and tomorrow, more than 300 delegates from 50+ countries are gathering in Munich – the IP epicenter of Europe – for the IP Service World 4th International Congress & Trade Fair to exchange practical knowledge and find support solutions for their IP businesses.

Within the two days, attendees have the opportunity to gain a comprehensive overview of international best practice solutions for any aspect of professional IP management – including translations for patent filings.

MultiLing is participating in this conference as a sponsor, exhibitor and presenter to share its best practices for effective management of IP translations. By effectively organizing people, processes and technology, MultiLing can help Global 500 legal teams raise efficiency and reduce costs without downsizing IP protection.

todd rapier

Todd Rapier presents at IP Service World

Todd Rapier, MultiLing executive vice president of worldwide sales, is presenting on the importance of accurate translation in Asia – the geography that continues to increase in the annual number of patent filings submitted through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

For example, in 2008, China, South Korea and Japan accounted for a little more than 26 percent of applications, but now account for 38 percent, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). China’s filings rose by 13.6 percent in 2012 to 19,105, just 250 behind Germany. South Korea completed the top five countries, with 11,848 filings representing a 13.4 percent increase.

While the number of patent filings is growing, incorrect patent translations from these countries are also growing, and arise more frequently with Asian languages than with any other business language in the world. MultiLing’s proven best practices for managing IP translations can help enterprises reduce office actions, litigation risks and time to grant, while improving the accuracy of translation and avoiding the risks of poor patent translations.

Join MultiLing at IP Service World to see how we can help you better protect your most important ideas around the world.

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