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European, Chinese Patent Offices Agree to Translations

File cabinets (waferboard/Flickr)The European Patent Office (EPO) and State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) of the People’s Republic of China have agreed to make possible translations of each other’s patents to the general public. The two organizations signed the agreement at their annual joint meeting, held this year in Chongqing, China.

The translations in English and Chinese, according to the announcement, will be done on demand through online automated tools. Both offices agreed to make the service operational and available to the public over the Internet by next year. In March 2011, EPO and Google agreed to collaborate on machine translation of patents into 32 European and Asian languages.

The translation tools are expected to help enterprises in Europe and China better deal with the higher volume of patents and patent applications, which exceeded 1.8 million worldwide in 2010, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. EPO and SIPO say the translations could also ease patent disputes since information disclosed about inventions from previous patents — known as prior art — would be more readily available.

SIPO is China’s government agency charged with patent administration and other matters involving intellectual property. EPO is an organization, separate from the EU, established in 1973 to develop a Europe-wide patent system. EPO’s members include all 27 countries the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and eight others.

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