Posted by: patenttranslator | March 6, 2010

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

The waiting is the hardest part in the life of this patent translator. Right now, I either have two patent translation jobs on my desk, or no work at all. Right now, I sort of have no idea which of the two possibilities is the reality.

The first job is short and sweet. It’s a long claim from a Japanese chemical patent with a couple of formulas in it. The law firm that is interested to know what is in this patent application could not find an English summary for this document because: 1. this document is old (almost 30 years) and 2. this is an examined (B) patent application and JPO makes English summaries available on its website only for unexamined (A) patent applications. It took me a while to figure this out because all I had was the number of the patent application and the date of filing. It is actually a French chemical patent that was translated into Japanese thirty years ago … the law firm probably has no idea that this document is available in French and probably also in English translation. I could probably find the original French patent and an English version of the same thing as well on the Internet. Oh, well, they should hire somebody who can read Japanese and French. Somebody like me, only thirty years younger (the legal secretary who called me sounded very monolingual). Are there people like me out there, only much younger, working as paralegals for patent law firms? I certainly hope not!!! I need the work. I’ve got bills to pay.

The second job would take me a few days to translate and it would pay my mortgage twice at my non-rush rate. It is a bunch of German documents related to patents, not patents per se. The lawyer already said in his e-mail that they needed the translation, but he also said that they wanted to know how much it would cost. So I hit him with my estimate. The cost probably took them by surprise because all I got from them since my e-mail with the cost and turnaround time estimate was … radio silence (Internet silence). Radio silence is actually a military terms which means something like stopping all communication before a battle to prevent the enemy from figuring out troop positions and battle plans. They probably need to run it by their client to have the cost approved in advance. Are they looking for a cheaper service? We’ll see.

So I’m waiting. What inevitably happens in these situations is one of the following two possible options.

1. Both translation jobs will come through at the same time along with another rush job from another source, followed by another one. They always come at the same time. It never rains, it’s either a downpour or a draught.

2. The Japanese translation will not be needed, it may not be that important since it is so old, and the German translation will go to a cheaper source at the insistence of the client of the law firm.

So I’m waiting here with Tom Petty.


What in fact happened this time was a combination of Option 1 and Option 2.

After 2 days, I heard from both clients.

The Japanese translation was canceled. This was the small job that would be kind of fun. OK, no big deal.

The long German job was also canceled. At the same time, I received a long German patent for translation, so finally, I was busy again. After another three days, the client who canceled the long German translation decided to go ahead and have some of the documents translated “for now”. So it looks like I will get to translate the whole thing eventually.


After 10 days, they asked me to have the remaining documents translated as well. At that point, I was juggling two other projects at the same time.


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