China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) and the China Patent Information Center (CPIC) have developed a Chinese-to-English translation engine.
China’s patent office is the fifth largest in the world in terms of volume, processing about a half million requests for invention patents, utility models, and design patents in 2006. The Japan and Korean offices have also deployed similar engines that allow English-speaking searchers to explore prior art filed in China as part of the patent process.
While such engines can be used as effective screening tools, translation experts point out that, as of today, machine translations are unable to reliably provide the same output quality as human translators. This is especially true in Chinese, where the loose grammatical structure of the language changes the meaning of certain words based on their context.
You can try the engine here. Simply type a keyword in the field provided on the left side of the screen, and you can indeed gain results. The engine, which launched for testing in April, is far from the patent-screening tools discussed the earlier post Track Intellectual Assets to Stay Ahead of Competitors and Tomorrow’s News. However, it’s a strategic step in establishing the Chinese system as a source of solutions for the international intellectual property community.