World Intellectual Property Organization Opens 26-Million-Word Translation Tender

World Intellectual Property Organization Opens 26-Million-Word Translation Tender

On November 20, 2020, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, published a call for expressions of interest (EOI) in a massive contract for ongoing translation from German, Spanish, French, and Russian into English.

WIPO, a self-funding agency of the United Nations with 193 member states, administers 26 international treaties dealing with international property (IP) protection. The contract will cover Patent Cooperation Treaty documents, namely patent abstracts and patentability reports.

Divided into lots (one per source language), the tender is open to language service providers (LSPs) from anywhere in the world. Even if an LSP wins just one lot, there is plenty to be gained. The annual translation volume covered by this contract, across approximately 52,000 documents per year, comes to about 26 million words; and WIPO spends CHF 4–5m (USD 4.39–5.49m) on translation annually.

Deadline for EOI submissions, which is the first stage of the tender process, is December 7, 2020. WIPO will invite pre-qualified LSPs to take translation tests, tentatively scheduled for December 16–17, 2020. Providers that are deemed eligible will then be allowed to bid on the tender in January 2021, followed by another testing round.

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“We expect new contracts to be in place in spring 2021,” WIPO Senior Procurement Officer Chris Piekoszewski told Slator.

Most Likely to Succeed

WIPO’s international network of translators comprises in-house staff, individual external translators, LSPs, and patent attorney offices — all designated under an open international tender process. This EOI, however, is specifically for LSPs specializing in patent translation and for patent attorney offices that can provide translation services on a regular basis.

Piekoszewski confirmed that although WIPO uses its own machine translation tool, WIPO Translate, this tender is intended for human translation only.

“Documents that are not proofread and revised by a native speaker of English are unlikely to meet our quality criteria and may be rejected” — Chris Piekoszewski, Senior Procurement Officer, WIPO

“All translations should be delivered to WIPO ‘publication-ready,’” Piekoszewski said. “Documents that are not proofread and revised by a native speaker of English are unlikely to meet our quality criteria and may be rejected.”

WIPO will weigh (1) the experience and expertise of candidate LSPs in patent and IP-related translations, (2) the availability of qualified translators and editors, (3) the translation quality systems LSPs have in place, and (4) the LSPs’ expertise in translating highly confidential documents and managing the required IT security systems. Piekoszewski said the corresponding weights for each factor will be defined later on in the process.

Of course, rates always play some role in the awarding contracts. Without providing specific numbers, WIPO suggests that suppliers offer their best prices while keeping in mind that, if selected, they will not be able to modify rates for the duration of the five-year contract. The rates should, therefore, strike a balance between being competitive and enabling suppliers to provide high-quality translations throughout the contract.

Interested LSPs can register as potential vendors on the United Nations Global Marketplace portal and then use the reference PTS_SD_TD/2020/594/EOI to download all relevant documents.