Google and the European Patent Office (EPO) have collaborated on a new service which launches today, designed to make it easier to understand patents in foreign languages.

Patent Translate is available as part of the EPO’s Espacenet service, and is a version of Google Translate that has been optimised for the type of language used in patent documents, making them easier to read and understand in other languages.

For example, while an English translation of a French description of polymerisable ink may once have read “A print head to direct a radiation curable ink to a substrate on the support received,” under the new system it would read “A print head for directing radiation polymerisable ink to a substrate received on the support.” Much clearer!

The idea is that people filing for patents across Europe will be able to see if their idea is already claimed, even if the patent was filed with the EPO in another language. Today’s launch follows a translation agreement signed between Google and the EPO in March 2011.