The EPO announced on November 30 that it is going to collaborate with Google:
The EPO and Google have today signed a Memorandum of Understanding to improve access to patent translations in multiple languages.
Under the agreement, the EPO will use Google’s machine translation technology to translate patents into the languages of the 38 countries that it serves. In return, it will provide Google with access to its translated patents, enabling Google to optimise its machine translation technology. Google technology will be used to translate patents originating in Europe as well as patents originating in other regions of the world and enjoying protection in Europe.
Exactly how the MT will be used is not clear from this announcement. It’s clear that patents can’t be translated by MT, but rough-and-ready translations which give the gist might be useful when it comes to searching lots of patents and seeing which might be worth investigating further.
I don’t translate patents. Although the legal and language aspects interest me, the technical knowledge is beyond me. But I know they can’t be translated by Google’s online MT.
(Thanks to Karen for reminding me of this)