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The Nippon Kayaku Group has positioned intellectual property as a business resource for sustained development of the Nippon Kayaku Group.
We actively create and utilize intellectual property while respecting the intellectual property of other companies.
We formulate our intellectual property strategy and pursue intellectual property activities based on the business strategy of each business and the R&D strategy.
The Intellectual Property Division works with each business division and laboratory to create intellectual property based on the business strategy and R&D strategy in each business. Decisions on whether or not to apply for a patent and acquire rights is made after considering the contribution to our business and products. We use time stamps and other means of recording and managing manufacturing technology, other core technology, and expertise. Investments in intellectual property are reassessed by regularly checking the contribution of registered rights to business in each business division.
The strategies for creating, acquiring rights on, and utilizing intellectual property differ according to the business division. We are currently working to visualize intellectual property in the business portfolio strategy described in the mid-term business plan. We ask what the strengths of the business and products are, analyze how intellectual property contributes in that context, and use this sort of analysis to secure a competitive advantage.
We are constantly checking to make sure that our products do not infringe on the rights of other companies from the R&D stage to the post-sale stage in order to minimize intellectual property risk. We also act to eliminate business risk from intellectual property as necessary.
To develop human resources with expertise in intellectual property, we deepen understanding of intellectual property through ongoing systematic internal training of researchers. Researchers are also encouraged to take external short courses on intellectual property and obtain related qualifications.
The Research & Development Division and the Intellectual Property Division work together on creation of new businesses and new products by using the IP landscape (analysis of patent information on non-patented information to provide new insights, develop hypotheses, etc.) to analyze and advise on business strategy and R&D strategy.
We support the generation of ideas by researchers by providing information sources that are useful for research and development and training on researching information. Researchers and the Intellectual Property Divisions also hold regular meetings in each laboratory. They both contribute ideas and results of verification at these meetings and work to generate ideas and discover inventions.
In order to promote the creation of intellectual property, we have established a system to recognize compensation for inventions made by employees and the contributions of employees.
We provide “a reasonable amount of money or other economic benefits (reasonable benefits)” to employee inventors each time a patent application is made, as stipulated under Article 35, paragraph 4 of the Patent Act. In addition, when a patent for an invention made by a employee has contributed to sales, we provide performance compensation equivalent to a certain percentage of sales or royalties for each business year. This program was initiated in 1963, and has been implemented pursuant to our Regulations for Employee Inventions, etc., which have been revised every time the Patent Act was amended.
Employees whose patents have made a particular contribution to sales are eligible to receive a lump-sum reward in addition to performance compensation, which incentivizes the development of intellectual property.
Even for patents pending, employees can receive compensation commensurate with the degree of contribution their invention has made to the financial performance of our Group. This particular program was initiated in 2005 to properly recognize inventions of products with a comparatively shorter life cycle, and serves to complement the aforementioned performance compensation program.
At the annual company-wide research presentation meeting, we hold an inventions commendation ceremony for patent applications and intellectual property activities, and award prizes and awards to outstanding inventors and employees engaged in intellectual property activities. We have established the Excellent Invention Award to recognize original and innovative inventions, the Application Award for Inventors with a large number of applications, and the Intellectual Property Activity Award for independent intellectual property activities that contribute to research and development and business. In addition, the award winners give lectures to share outstanding achievements and lead to the next invention and intellectual property activities.
Number of patents granted in Japan Number of patents applied for in Japan
The two goals of our intellectual property activities are to maximize business value and create new value. To realize these goals, we have reviewed our organizational structure.
To maximize business value, we need to understand our business and research activities and engage in intellectual property activities in tandem with them. The Intellectual Property Department was formerly organized by function, but it was changed to a system of business responsibilities. Knowing what is needed to make our business stronger, where we aim for next R&D, and the situations and flows in which our business is located, and knowing the direction that research and development is about to go, is essential for building our intellectual property strategy. We communicate closely with researchers and business managers to discover inventions, quickly build intellectual property portfolios, promote intellectual property activities on a global scale, and actively work to detect intellectual property risks at an early stage.
While research and development will of course plays a leading role in creating new value, we believe that intellectual property activities can play a part in this. Specifically, we have begun such efforts as the integration of external information such as industry trends, technological trends, and trends at other companies, as well as various internal information, to identify potential issues demanded by customers and to discover technologies to solve them. This activity requires the ability to collect and analyze information, construct scenarios, and take them to proposals. Creating a system to make this process permanent and developing human resources are urgent, and we are promoting initiatives while establishing a dedicated person in charge and collaborating with relevant departments.
The power of intellectual property is difficult to see as a root, as in the case of plants. However, deep and broad, firm rooting makes it a tree that is difficult to fall over, and it can bear fruit with a lot of flowers. The Intellectual Property Department will work to ensure that the intellectual property created from this research and development is used as rights to strengthen the competitiveness of our business, and that this will lead to the sustainable growth of Nippon Kayaku.
General Manager of Intellectual Property Division
Research & Development Group