What’s in a Patent Translation

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Patent translation may seem very straightforward, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Patents are technical texts that don’t just require language expertise. They cover a variety of subject matters and are also written in a specific style. Moreover, different countries have different requirements regarding formatting and even vocabulary for their patent applications. Now that you know things are more complex than they seem, let’s take a look at what patent translation entails.

Technical knowledge

Just like any technical translator, patent translators should be proficient in the subject matter, be it chemistry, pharmaceuticals, mechanics, biotech, or any other field. It is also useful to have a general understanding of related fields.

Legal knowledge

A good patent translator will understand the legal terminology around patent filing, as well as the filing process in the target country. This way, translators will be able to properly convey the content of the patent in a manner acceptable to the local patent authority.

The importance of claims

The claims are the most important part of any patent as they define the boundaries of an invention—also known as its scope. Claims can’t be too broad or narrow and are often written by patent attorneys to make sure there are no issues in the application process. Any mistakes or misinterpretations in the translation of this part of a patent can have dire consequences for applicants.

As you can see, finding an experienced translator that knows how to transmit your claims properly in the target language is extremely important.

Formatting requirements

As we’ve mentioned, different countries tend to have different requirements regarding formatting and even vocabulary. We’ll see some examples below.

Latin America

  • In Spanish, decimal numbers are usually separated by commas. When it comes to patent translation, this applies to most Latin Countries (such as Argentina and Chile), but not to Mexico. This country prefers to separate decimals with dots, just like in English.
  • Mexico and Chile have different requirements when it comes to text margins.
  • Mexico asks for an extra word file for sequence listings while Argentinean patents must include them between the specification and the claims.


The different formatting requirements may seem insignificant, but they could stand in the way of your patent application being accepted.>

As you can see, a lot goes into patent translation and choosing your translator carefully is crucial.


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