Within the Group, business departments, the R&D Department, and the Intellectual Property Department cooperate to help develop the Group’s businesses and enhance brand value by filing for, managing, and utilizing patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property (IP) protections. In addition, regarding risks and compliance related to intellectual property, such as respecting other companies’ IP rights and managing confidential information, we design and implement appropriate processes and strive to prevent the emergence of new risks.
Our intellectual property activities system consists of the Intellectual Property Department and an IP manager assigned to each division. The divisions mainly take on corporate functions, analyze patent data, and conclude agreements while addressing disputes with other companies, managing confidential information, supporting the launch of new businesses, and managing IP risks. The IP managers of business departments formulate IP strategies aligned with the strategies and business characteristics of their respective business departments and strive to expand business by swiftly and effectively acquiring and utilizing IP.
To ensure the market dominance of its businesses, the Group continually works to build and utilize its patent portfolio. In recent years, we switched our patent acquisition policy from a focus on quantity to a focus on quality. Although the number of patent publications we file in Japan is declining, the ratio of patent applications we file overseas is increasing. There has also been a steady increase in the number of registered patents we hold overseas, which are needed for global expansion. Many of the patents held by Idemitsu have garnered high acclaim and awards from external organizations and are supported by in-house incentives due to their huge contributions to business revenue.
Idemitsu developed a new light producing method for OLEDs using fluorescent blue-light emitting materials and succeeded in achieving the world’s highest light emitting rate and longevity. At the symposium ''Display Week 2022※''held in San Jose, U.S.A., the paper presenting the achievement was selected as the best paper in the OLED Technology Category.
※The symposium held by the Society for Information Display, the world’s largest academic group for displays.
Three Idemitsu employees received the Science and Technology Award (research division) in fiscal 2022 at the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Awards. The purpose of this award is to motivate people involved in science and technology and thereby help raise the standards of these disciplines in Japan by praising the successes of people who have secured remarkable accomplishments in research, development, and the promotion of understanding related to science and technology. The award achievement was “Development of a highly efficient and long-life blue organic EL light emitting device.”
Idemitsu was selected as a winner of both an Excellent Invention Award and an Award for Outstanding Practice of Innovation by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation under its FY2018 National Commendation for Invention program. This selection was attributable to an OLED element and an organic light emitting medium both developed by Idemitsu (patent No. 4221050).
The Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation has been sponsoring this award program to commend Japan’s leading researchers and scientists who contributed to the enhancement of the country’s scientific technologies and the development of its industrial sector. This award program is widely recognized as the most prestigious among intellectual property-related award programs in Japan.
In the development of a blue light-emitting element, which had been said to be difficult to put into practical use, Idemitsu achieved a blue color light-emitting element with much higher color purity than the previous blue one, contributing to prolonged life of displays. Idemitsu was highly evaluated by the institute for the significant contribution to the practical use of OLED full color displays.
Idemitsu was chosen to receive an Award from the Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office, as one of recipients of Awards for Excellent Corporation Utilizing the Intellectual Property Rights System under the FY2018 Intellectual Property Achievement Awards program.
The Intellectual Property Achievement Awards program, sponsored jointly by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan patent Office, is intended to commend individuals and corporations that contributed to the development of the country’s intellectual property right system.
Idemitsu was highly commended for its track record in promoting its plans associated with intellectual property rights.
To motivate employees to invent new things and encourage the creation of inventions that support our businesses, we established the Employee Invention Incentive Program, which provides incentives to inventors whose work significantly contributes to business revenue. In fiscal 2021, in the fields of electronic materials and engineering plastics, 21 inventors received employee invention incentives for work that has significantly contributed to business revenue.
To help employees be mindful of IP※ and acquire the IP knowledge necessary for business and research, we maintain a training system that comprises multiple courses covering such areas as patent application, data research, and technological agreements and hold annual training sessions. In addition, we actively provide individual training that meets the needs of each business department, including initiatives undertaken with other companies covering managing confidential information for active divisions. We enable employees to gain highly specialized capabilities mainly through rank-based training and on-the-job training with senior IP managers. In addition, to train IP personnel who support global business expansion, we regularly dispatch IP managers to conduct training at overseas patent offices.
Intellectual Property Department conducted patent training four times in November and December 2019, with 243 participants from 13 departments. In this training, 7 courses were prepared to learn the practical techniques and methodologies according to the needs of employees in daily business operations. As the business expands globally, understanding intellectual property, including patents, has become more important than before.
Through group discussion, the participants learned to understand the essence of one’s invention (intellectual property) as the output of research. They also tried to examine information leakage cases faced by other companies; identifying the problems and considering their countermeasures. The training course was full of practical contents.
On July 22 and 30, 2019, basic patent training was conducted mainly for young employees in technical fields. These training sessions are held annually to enable employees to obtain a deeper understanding of functions and importance of intellectual property (IP), and this year, 40 employees from eleven business units and laboratories attended the sessions. The training program included not only explanations about the outline of the Patent Act but also practical exercises in information search and other areas. One of the trainees expressed, “I am able to deepen my understanding of IP because the lecturer took Idemitsu’s patents as examples and explained whether particular patents are new or not.”, while other commented, “I want to know more about search tools.” which indicates that the training was meaningful. Practical patent training is scheduled for November, and in the future, the company will continue to spread knowledge regarding IP throughout the organization and improve the employees IP skill.