DCU researchers develop patent translation system

18 Oct 2011

The lives of inventors seeking information on patents could be made easier by a new machine translation system, a prototype of which is being showcased today at the Patent Information Conference.

Called ‘Patent Language Translations Online’ (PLuTO), the system has been developed by researchers at the Centre for Next Generation Localisation at Dublin City University, which is leading the consortium running the project.

Funded by the European Commission, PLuTO aims to improve access to multilingual digital patent libraries, thus reducing the time and cost associated with patent information access and filing.

The translation burden when seeking patent validation can prove expensive and time consuming for companies. These translations can cost up to €680 per EU patent, and are often prohibitive to individual inventors and SMEs.

Additionally, the increase in IP activity globally over the last number of years, particularly in Asia, means that greater amounts of patent data now exist in languages foreign to patent searchers and examiners, thus creating additional translation needs.

Making use of the web

“PLuTO makes use of existing web content and the latest machine translation tools developed by DCU researchers,” explains project leader Dr Páraic Sheridan.

“Thanks to its specialisation, the system is more reliable than general-purpose machine translation tools, providing on-demand translation when instant access to information is required.

“We are working closely with the European Patent Office (EPO) and have already deployed, from DCU, machine translation for English-Portuguese to run live on the EPO website. Ultimately, we aim to deploy personalised, tailored vocabulary and terminology management for patent professionals across many languages.”

Sheridan is presenting the PLuTO translation service prototype to around 330 patent experts from 40 countries at the EPO Patent Information Conference 2011 being held today in Kilkenny.