Patent Translations for Patent Litigation

Legal Document Translation for Patent Litigation

Legal translation solutions, such as pre litigation translation, patent litigation translation, patent litigation translation services, legal translation services for commercial litigation play an important role in patent litigation.  With the recent advances in computing, artificial intelligence, and other types of technology, the daily newspapers are filled with headlines regarding patent disputes between large multinational companies. Clearly, patent litigation is becoming increasingly commonplace in the United States federal court system. What is often not mentioned in any of these newspaper articles or news reports is the extremely important role that translations and good translation specifically can play in both resolving as well as avoiding patent disputes altogether.

The patent process in the United States requires making an application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and demonstrating that the applicant has developed a product or process that no other person has previously developed. The United States is the jurisdiction of choice for companies from around the world in filing for and defending their patents, mostly because of the protections that are given to patent holders by both the United States patent laws as well as the strength of the United States federal courts as a forum to either uphold a valid parent or to challenge the granting or scope of an improperly granted or too broadly granted patent in its scope.

In the past 30 years, many patent applications have come from Asian countries, most notably Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and more recently China, as firms from those countries have developed technologies and processes that they have patented in the United States and in other countries around the world. This has led to more patent applications, and patent litigation, involving Asian translation services.

A key issue that has developed in many patent cases has been the quality of the translations in the original patent applications. This issue has only come to light years later when litigation regarding the patents took place and it became clear that the translations in the original patent application had been mistranslated completely. The consequences of a mistranslation can be drastic, however, as demonstrated by the case of Mitsubishi Chemical Corp. v Barr Laboratories, Inc., in which the interpretation of a single sentence in a piece of prior art describing the patented chemical solution in a Japanese text invalidated an entire patent in a challenge to the patent in U.S. federal court. 435 Fed. Appx. 927 (Fed. Cir. 2011.)

This trend is visible not just in the United States’ courts.Iin 2015 the Korean Supreme Court ruled on a suit brought to invalidate the original Duoback chair patent based on a faulty Korean translation of the German original. A plaintiff in the South Korean Supreme Court argued that the error-filled German to Korean translation of the Duoback chair patent rendered the patent invalid in South Korea. While the claim was ultimately dismissed, the Duoback chair patent holder still had to spend time and money fighting the litigation in South Korea and was lucky the patent was not invalidated.

All of these decisions point to the importance of precise, accurate translations in both patent applications as well as patent litigation. It is imperative that parties use technical translators well-versed in the appropriate language when filing patents, as well as during patent litigation. As these decisions clearly demonstrate, proper translation services are essential in helping a party to not only prevail in court, but to protect its intellectual property on the front end by ensuring a patent application and all translations contained therein are accurate, correctly and precisely translated.

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