Whether we like it or not (see comments on recent IPKat posts here and here), machine translations are the future, and will become more important, and hopefully better, as the patent system becomes increasingly global. The arrival of a new translation service from SIPO (the Chinese Patent Office), just announced by the EPO, is therefore to be welcomed. The ability to at least make some sense out of patents in several languages is now easier than ever before, without having to go through the tedious mucking about involved in actually learning them all.
As of now, translations into English (of a kind) are available for several of the more popular patenting languages, being:
French & German: from the EPO's excellent espacenet service;
Japanese: from the (rather unwieldy, but very useful) Patent & Utility Model Gazette database; and
Chinese: from the SIPO patent search service.
The IPKat thinks that would cover almost any recent patent or application one would need to find and understand. The services are not yet complete or perfect, but go a long way to helping out the language-deficient person. Unfortunately, the IPKat has yet to come across a free service that will translate US patents into readable English. Can any of his readers help?