Identifying and mitigating linguistic inequalities in the management of patent information in Europe
•The language regime of the EPO generates different language-related cost inequalities.•The European patent system tends to be more multilingual than is commonly believed.•The European patent information system can be rationalised and harmonised.•Tools to facilitate the retrieval of multilingual information should be introduced.•The infrastructure for the dissemination of knowledge on patent information can be enhanced.
The current language regime of the European Patent Office, based on three official languages (namely, English, French and German) entails different types of inequalities among European users of the European patent system. Such inequalities concern the distribution of translation costs borne by European applicants when they file a European patent application, and the costs to access patent information published by the Office. This article identifies and characterises inequalities occurring at the level of patent information management, and it discusses some possible measures to mitigate them. Three measures are proposed, that is, rationalising and harmonising the European patent information system, introducing tools to facilitate the retrieval of multilingual information, and enhancing the infrastructure for the dissemination of knowledge on the use of patent information. This article also presents some unpublished figures revealing that the European patent system is more multilingual than commonly believed. There is a mismatch between the current language regime of the Office and the actual needs of European innovators for multilingual patent information. These results confirm the relevance of new initiatives to manage patent information more effectively by reducing existing inequalities in this area.
Journal: World Patent Information - Volume 40, March 2015, Pages 43–50