How to Become a Patent Translator

Patenet Translator Skills

What are patents and why are they so important?

Patents are granted by governments to protect the rights of the inventor of a particular product or device. Owning the patent means that when the product is sold, no one else theoretically is able to copy it and therefore profit from the time and money the inventor has spent on developing it. Patents are the equivalent of copyright protection. The major difference between patents and copyrights is that copyright tends to protect intellectual property in the form of text, such as books, films, poetry, songs, and lyrics. Patents tend to protect intellectual property in the form of physical objects, such as machines, devices, and instruments that have been invented, i.e. have been newly created.

Patents are typically only valid within a specific national entity, such as in the U.K., the E.U., the U.S., Australia, etc. An investor who has spent considerable resources developing something entirely new may apply for a patent in their own country, but unless the patent is gained in other jurisdictions, may not be able to stop it from being copied and sold anywhere else outside their own country.

This leads to the importance of applying for patents in multiple countries and the reliance on patent translators whenever the language of the country for which patent protection has been applied is different from the originating country. Skimping on professional patent translation could cost the applicant the granting of the patent in the country where it has been applied for.


    I agree to the Privacy Policy and the Collection Notice under the Australian Privacy Act.

    Some countries share patent application processes through treaties, such as the PCT, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Applying for patent protection through the PCT helps to avoid having to find specific patent translators oneself as this process is part of the procedure when applying through the PCT. 

    Patent translator skills

    Patent translation is a sub-skill of legal translation and many of the specific skills that all legal translators share belong to patent translators as well. Translators who translate patents may specialize solely in patents or may do other legal translations as well.

    Patent translators must have the following combination of skills.

    1. Fluency in at least two languages. This is obviously the first and foremost skill that the patent translator must have. While all patent translators must be fluent in at least one other language other than their own native language, it doesn’t mean that bilingualism enables someone to be a patent translator.
    2. Patent translators have normally acquired expertise and training in translation skills through a formal process, i.e. in an educational institution that offers diplomas, certificates, or degrees in translation. In some countries, you cannot operate as a licensed translator unless you have the necessary qualifications as a translator. This is especially important in legal translation where a translator’s ability to translate a document such as a patent accurately and confidentially is taken very seriously.
    3. Patent translators usually have a legal background and understand what is required in patent translation. Patents must be worded very carefully to avoid the possibility of legal loopholes and the possibility of a competitor being able to circumvent the normal rules that should apply to patent protection. This means that the patent translator must have a good working knowledge of the way patents are worded and the laws that apply to them in both the source county and the country in which the patent has been applied for.


    It is commonplace for inventors to seek commercial legal protection for any invention that they have developed. Because newly developed products are likely to be made available in many parts of the world, the patent translator’s skills are required to ensure that the inventor gains the right to patent protection outside of their own home country. 

    Patent translators are basically legal translators who may specialize in patent translation. Attention to accuracy, especially in terminology, an ability to interpret different legal systems, and confidentiality are all as important as fluency in the source and target languages.

    Related Posts

    Legal Translation

    Skills Required to Become a Legal Translator

    Translation Skills

    December 6, 2022

    Translators are professionals who translate a huge variety of different texts, ranging from websites to..

    View More

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *