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In order to support the execution of Hitachi High-Tech business strategy, we protect intellectual property (IP) created within the company by such means as patents, designs, and trademarks. We also engage in proactive measures to avoid infringing IP rights belonging to others, and we further provide IP-related support for expansion of our service and solutions business as well as for open innovation that utilizes collaboration with other companies and other such external resources.
Over the last few years, as IoT technology has developed, the scope of IP has expanded to include data and other information resources. For example, data obtained from devices is used to provide various solutions to customers who use those devices. In such cases, issues can arise with the ownership of the information resources, secondary use, and so on. There may be questions of who possesses the knowhow and analysis methods and—particularly when AI is applied—the raw data, datasets for learning, and learned models and parameters, and questions about the extent to which the company can use the data. We therefore pursue IP activities that also extends to the handling of information resources.
In addition, there has been an increase in cases where external resources are utilized through collaboration with other companies, M&As, and so on. We assess candidates for collaboration and M&A with respect to such matters as whether their IP is suitable for our business purpose, and we resolve the various IP issues that arise when collaborating with companies that differ from ours in terms of country, industry, or other such aspects of their background.
We seek to ensure that others respect our IP rights while we also respect the IP rights of others.
There is demand for solutions using physical and non-physical things. In the solutions business, collaboration with customers and partners is the key. It is vital to deal with IP provided to customers and partners and with IP created during the collaboration process. The handling of IP that cannot be fully protected by data and knowhow IP rights alone is particularly important. Regarding that, we provide total support, from non-disclosure agreements at the proof of concept (PoC) phase, to co-development agreements, and contracts at the commercialization phase, to ensure a win-win relationship with customers and partners.
The IP Division is a group of specialists, including 13 in-house patent attorneys and 2 PhD holders (total figures as of April 2021). We strive to develop human resources who have high-level professional skills and the ability to respond to the globalization of business so that they can vigorously pursue IP measures. At the same time, we aim to create an organization that can utilize the diverse experiences of each individual to advantage.
Moreover, we have established a robust inventor incentive program, a system to recognize employees who contribute to our IP, and other such measures to heighten our employees motivation to invent. We are reviewing these measures as needed according to changes in the business environment and other such factors.
The Hitachi High-Tech Group generates the majority of its revenues from sales overseas, primarily in Asia. To support such globalization in our business, we are strengthening our patent applications and acquisition of rights in the West and Asia, while also continuing our measures against counterfeit products that make use of our trademarks. In FY2020, overseas applications accounted for about 75% of our total applications. In addition, we are responding to the shift in development to overseas group companies by providing support in formulating IP policy and other such IP activities.