Industrial Property; Being a Successful Interpreter

Industrial Property—Propriété industrielle Dictionnaire juridique bilingue


Reviewed by: Bruce D. Popp
Author: David Brunand
Publisher: Éditions DHBO
Publication date: 2014
Number of Pages: 242
Price: Around $81 (Includes bank charges,€49.76 for the book, and €20.73 for shipping)
ISBN: 978-90-815592-2-5
Available from:

Glossary of Patent Terms (French<>English): Software

Authors: Sebastian Abbo and Pierre Saconney
Number of entries: 3,000
Price: Around $19 (Includes bank charges, €16.58 for the software and delivery by e-mail and download)
Available from:

In preparing to review these two references, I considered the scope of the terms that I expected them to cover based on my experience as a patent translator and on their titles. With this scope in mind, I somewhat arbitrarily generated four lists of terms in both French and English and then looked for the entries concerning these terms. The following review is based on the results of my search.





When translating patents or documents relating to patents, such as administrative communications with patent offices, briefs and expert reports submitted to administrative bodies and courts, and subsequent orders and decisions, the specialized translator is faced with terminology challenges falling into three main areas.

  1. The first area involves the technical subject matter of the invention described in the patent. This part of the terminology challenge can come from any of a large number of diverse and unrelated subject areas. This often requires the translator to have specialized knowledge of the subject area and to research primary sources. Although I won’t be focusing on this area here, you can get more information from an article I wrote for the Chronicle.1
  2. The second area involves jargon, specialized vocabulary, and words that are given special meaning by statute or regulation (i.e., terms used within the writing of the patent itself, such as “comprising,” “substantially,” and “embodiment”).
  3. The third area involves words and terminology used by patent practitioners, patent examiners, court-appointed experts, and patent office officials when writing for each other. Examples include words such as “preliminary amendment,” “office action,” and “opposition.”

I focused on the second and third challenges when conducting my term searches for this review.

Searching for Documents through the European Patent Office

The European Patent Office (EPO) has three official languages: English, French, and German. Its foundational document, the European Patent Convention (EPC), and many other lesser documents, are prepared in these three languages in parallel and are available for public download

If you are translating between EPO official languages and come across an unfamiliar term, it is highly advisable to search the EPC site for the term and align the search result with the corresponding part in the parallel text in the target language. When this works, and it often does, you can be confident in the result of your terminology research. Don’t translate EPO documents without applying this technique for terminology research.

Scope of Coverage

The Industrial Property—Propriété industrielle Dictionnaire juridique bilingue and the Glossary of Patent Terms cover both directions between French and English. The glossary covers patent terms and the dictionary covers intellectual property (including patent terms and trademarks and copyrights). The dictionary is a paperback book with 242 pages, and has ample white space and is easily readable. The back cover states that it has “over 5,000 words and expressions translated.” The glossary is a small Windows software application. By default, it is available in a 16- or 32-bit operating system version, which I believe reflects its origin in Windows 3.1. I downloaded a beta 64-bit version that requires me to re-enter the registration number every time I use it. The user interface is minimal but functional. The information on the website indicates that it includes “over 3,000 entries (approximately 14,000 words) pertaining to the world of patents and intellectual/industrial property.”

Term Search Results

To conduct the review, I prepared two lists of about 15 words (split between French and English), one list for each of the second and third terminology challenge areas mentioned above. These lists reflect: 1) terms found in patents and related documents that I’ve translated, or in patents to which I’ve referred in the course of translating other documents; 2) U.S. terms that I’ve needed when writing in French to French patent practitioners; and 3) terms from my own glossary that I thought were sufficiently important enough to be included in these reference works.

Other Resources
1. Code de la propriété intellectuelle
2. INPI Directives—examen demande de brevet
3. World Intellectual Property Organization Handbook on Industrial Property Information and Documentation
(Defines the meanings of INID codes [circled numbers] used on patent cover pages; use the English and French versions in parallel.)

English Version

French Version

4. World Intellectual Property Organization Country Names and Two-Letter Codes

English Version

French Version

5. World Intellectual Property Organization Pearl
(WIPO’s multilingual terminology portal provides access to scientific and technical terms derived from patent documents.)

6. United States Patent and Trademark Office Manual of Patent Examining Procedure

Overall Evaluation

After reviewing the tables above, it should be clear that the Industrial Property—Propriété industrielle Dictionnaire juridique bilingue and the Glossary of Patent Terms do not provide satisfactory coverage of the jargon used within patents. This result is very disappointing.

For these critical little words, I have no resources to suggest. It seems one must dive into the primary literature, such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Manual of Patent Examining Procedure and the corresponding parts of the French Code de propriété industrielle and the INPI Directives—examen demande de brevet of the National Industrial Property Institute of France. Bon courage!

For the third terminology area, both references did somewhat better than for the second area; the glossary had somewhat more matches than the dictionary. I don’t think the coverage provided by either work is sufficiently extensive. Although it may not be evident from this sampling, when there is a matching entry in the dictionary, the dictionary fairly frequently provides a paragraph or more explaining the term. This is a very useful and welcome feature.

Unfortunately, for the above reasons, I cannot recommend either work at this time.

  1. Popp, Bruce D. “Using Patents to Find the Terminology You Need,” The ATA Chronicle (May 2009), page 16–23, Popp 2009 May, Popp_patent_terminology.

Bruce D. Popp is an ATA-certified French>English translator and a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registered patent agent with a PhD in astronomy. He translates patents and scientific and technical documents. Contact:

Being a Successful Interpreter: Adding Value and Delivering Excellence


Reviewed by: Alexander C. Gansmeier
Author: Jonathan Downie
Publisher: Routledge
Publication date: (May 2016)
ISBN: 978-1138119697
Price: $39.95
Available from:

At one point or another in our careers, I’d wager we’ve all asked ourselves how we could become even more successful or deliver true excellence. Thankfully, man of many talents Jonathan Downie claims to have the answers in his aptly named Being a Successful Interpreter: Adding Value and Delivering Excellence. Downie has created an excellent 136-page how-to guide with a very hands-on approach that will definitely be worth checking out when it’s released this spring. (Available May 12th in Europe; May 21st in the U.S.)

A Well-Rounded Approach

From unleashing your inner potential, to listening to your gut feeling, or getting in touch with your inner self, these types of books often drone on about some vague platitudes while trying desperately to make a point. Thankfully, Being a Successful Interpreter takes a different approach and gives you a taste of academic research, combined with relevant interviews, bite-size knowledge nuggets, and practical lessons that can be applied to the life of a professional.

Spanning a total of 10 chapters, Downie covers a large variety of relevant topics, including developing an active working relationship with clients while moving away from a more passive role as a language conduit, branding, and promotion and public relations for interpreters. There’s even a chapter entitled “Eating Your Way to Success,” dedicated to the tastier side of a professional’s life and the dos and don’ts of a freelancer’s healthy diet. A French<>English conference interpreter based in Edinburgh, Scotland, Downie covers conference interpreting as well as public service interpreting, and even talks openly about the need to reunite a “divided profession.”

Downie is serving his third term on the board of the U.K.’s Institute of Translation and Interpreting, so readers are provided with his extensive academic insights mixed with personal hands-on interpreting experience. Downie skillfully divides the information in each chapter. The first part is the more “academic” portion, and the second part features interviews with such industry experts as Judy and Dagmar Jenner, Esther Navarro-Hall, and many more renowned industry veterans from across the globe. These interviews underline the main message of each chapter while giving them an added dimension through each expert’s unique industry insights.

Interestingly, Downie also keeps in mind those readers who may be more accustomed to the quick pace of, say, a 140-character Tweet by providing a very succinct three-bullet introduction to each chapter. Even better: at the end of each chapter, he adds the “Putting it into practice” section, in which he handily summarizes the key chapter concepts and main take-aways and suggests how to put them into practice in everyday freelance life. From questions you can ask to things you can do, both on your own and/or in a group, Downie makes each chapter’s content tangible with these end-of-chapter examples and exercises. Ask yourself: “When preparing for an assignment, how much time do you spend thinking about what your clients will want from the event?” This and many more questions and activities create a very introspective yet active reading experience.

That being said, this might not be a publication for everyone, as some of Downie’s opinions or statements might be subject to a bit of lively debate. While this is certainly a desired effect, not everybody will agree with the notion that interpreters need to abandon the concept of neutrality in interpreting or—a much more serious shock for any practicing interpreter—like the idea that conference interpreters should move on from their best friend, coffee.

Overall Evaluation

Downie successfully mashes his signature breezy and at times laugh-out-loud funny writing style with some great content, intriguing interviews, and practical tips. If you’re a practicing interpreter or even just interested in reading some of what the industry’s greats have to say, this book is a great read by an author who expertly balances style and substance. 

Alexander C. Gansmeier is a freelance German<>English conference interpreter in Munich, Germany. He has a master’s degree in conference interpreting from the University of Central Lancashire (U.K.). He serves on the board of various professional organizations, including the German Association of Conference Interpreters and Germany’s Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ). His specializations include dermatology, automotive technology, and information technology. Contact:

The ATA Chronicle © 2022 All rights reserved.