17 June 2015Americas

BIO 2015: Lost in translation? Meet MultiLing

MultiLing is a Utah-based patent translation company with clients including IBM, Thermo Fisher Scientific and P&G. LSIPR caught up with the company’s senior vice president of worldwide sales Michael Degn at the BIO International Convention in Philadelphia.

LSIPR: What does MultiLing do?

MD: Michael Sneddon [a member of the American Intellectual Property Law Association] started the company in 1988. He changed the way that translators translate by centralising and streamlining the whole process.

The traditional way of translating patents was to send them [in paper form] to foreign associates at law firms. The patent would be translated, and then the company would file it—so everything was done in isolation. Sneddon said that if we set up collaborative teams with one project manager, we could build up glossaries and terminology and make sure that all the patents that get translated in different countries are consistent. These teams can talk to one another—interact, if you will—and make sure that the patent is accurate in each one of these different countries where it’s been filed.

We have a network of well over 2,000 translators. Our company itself is made up of about 300 full time employees. We work in more than 120 languages.

It’s a really fun industry. I’ve only been in it for a little over two years, and I love it. Where else do you get to help these companies that have these great ideas?

LSIPR: Which industries do MultiLing’s clients work in?

MD: We have a very high focus on the life sciences—the biopharma—which we do all IP for. There is a big focus now on the life sciences side.

LSIPR: What is MultiLing’s biggest challenge at the moment?

MD: Right now it’s making sure we have the proper resources in place to meet the needs of our clients, both existing and new. The America Invents Act—everybody talks about it—is a big challenge this year.

In September and October filings around the world are going to go up about 65% year-on-year for those two months. That’s a challenge for a company like us.

We’re in the process right now of working with large clients and bringing a little of that work forward so that it doesn’t all come in September. We have a busy summer ahead.

LSIPR: Are your technologies patented?

MD: We use two technologies. One is a software product called Trados. We also have our own proprietary software called Fortis, which helps us manage this “translation memory”. Translation memory is the name of the game. You’ve got to make sure you’re saving translations; otherwise there’s no way we’re gaining the efficiencies for our clients.

The clients we work with are multi-billion dollar companies, but they have budgets. And budgets are getting consolidated, and contracted. We’re trying to figure out how we, for less money, can give them the same coverage.

LSIPR: Does MultiLing have IP disputes with other companies?

MD: No, not really. We have our own proprietary technology and they use similar tools. We do have patents on how we manage the technology and the people—our process. We practise what we preach.

LSIPR: What do you hope to achieve at BIO?

MD: One of its strengths is how many people come; one of its weaknesses is how many people come. There are so many people here that it’s incumbent on us to make sure we do a little work ahead of time so that we can line up meetings.

As long as you do your pre-conference work and line up appointments, it’s a wonderful conference. Not to mention: you have these experts in the seminars. There’s a lot of pressure on people to give a good presentation. They know other experts are coming to hear from them, so if you want to get some good education, come to BIO.

I’m not a patent attorney, but I talk to a lot of them and the more I can learn from these discussions and these panels that speak, it helps me—it gives you credibility.

The 2015 BIO International Convention is taking place in Philadelphia from June 15 to 18.

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