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HitachiHitachi High Technologies' activities related to intellectual property (IP) are built around a three-pronged approach, which aims to integrate our business strategy, R&D strategy, and IP strategy based on an overarching management strategy of "Putting Customers First."
We created our R&D road map from an analysis of customers’ most recent needs and concerns collected by the business strategy and marketing division with future market trends forecasts.
We formulated our IP strategy on the basis of our patent map. It arranges patents related to products that belong to us and other companies and visualizes the strengths and weaknesses of our patent position.
We protect our business through methods such as patent activities that generate our most important patents and applications for inventions that amend, divide, or improve existing patents, and we are pursuing activities to build a patent portfolio that can withstand assertions by other companies. Furthermore, eliminating barriers between product development divisions is encouraged so that we can develop important shared technology that can be used in different products into valid patents that can also be used by other companies.
61% of the Hitachi High-Tech Group' s Revenues in FY2016 came from overseas, which focused on Asia. Hence, we are strengthening our patent applications and acquisition of grants in the West and Asia. Thus, regards to products that are marketed solely in the West and not in Japan, instead of applying for patents in Japan, we are actively pursuing a strategy of applying for international patents. This strategy is rather appropriate for our diverse businesses to focus on the countries in which the products are sold. In fiscal 2016, foreign patent applications accounted for 70% of our total applications.
Our basic policy is not to use the IP of other companies and not to allow other companies to use our IP. We respect the intellectual property rights of others as well as seek to ensure that others respect our intellectual property rights.
Besides patents, we are actively conducting IP-related activities with regard to designs (the form of items, etc.) and trademarks (product names and service marks). For example, in conjunction with Hitachi Ltd., we are resolute in our continuous implementation of measures against Chinese trademark infringements, such as automated biochemistry analyzer cleaning fluid carrying the Hitachi brand and our trademarks. In terms of designs, we are actively pursuing multiple foreign applications for partial designs and related designs as a measure to prevent counterfeit versions of the Miniscope tabletop microscope.
Example of partial design applications
Exterior of the Miniscope
Our well-developed invention incentive program encourage employees who work on the front line of research and development to make inventions. Our program has been conducted in a fair and transparent manner, as we disclose the structure of the incentive program to employees, and setting up a mechanism to respond to inquiries and receive opinions about incentives that have been granted.
Our well-developed intellectual property award program, which grants an "Intellectual Property Award" for inventions, etc., makes an outstanding contribution to the improvement of business performance. The program also includes nominating the "Top 10 Inventors," based on implementation results over the course of the year, and the "Top 10 Young Inventors," which is open to young inventors aged 35 or under, and is based on applications made within 5 years of joining the company. The "Top 10 Young Inventors" is particularly motivating for young inventors to engage in the creation of new inventions.
We encourage trainings to produce staff who have high-level professional skills, and who are able to respond to the globalization of business, in order to promote the enhancement of IP activities. The Intellectual Property Division is a group of specialists, including ten in-house patent attorneys and two holders of doctorates (total number as of April 2017), and is working to improve the dependability of IP activities.