Intellectual Property Activities
Consistent with our recognition of intellectual property as essential assets of the company and sources of competitive advantages, our business and research and development divisions are united in their promotion of intellectual property strategies to expand and strengthen existing businesses and create new businesses. We also minimize intellectual property risks by conducting patent surveys as we engage in development and move toward commercialization to show our respect for the intellectual property of other companies and avoid unnecessary disputes.
We file high-quality patent applications, and retain useful patent for the new technology we produce in the course of carrying out everyday research and production activities by actively working to unearth new inventions, regularly holding patent review meetings, and applying for patents with the intent to obtain and take advantage of the exclusivity they grant. We also strategically apply for defensive patents and seek to acquire rights with an eye on competitors in our core businesses to ensure our advantages in terms of patents and otherwise quickly adapt to changes in the circumstances surrounding intellectual property.
Furthermore, we are working to reform and improve awareness of intellectual property among our people in research and development sections by training them in intellectual property, specifically through internal patent seminars featuring original training and workshops for R&D agreements to more effectively engage in co-creation with outside entities.
To incentivize our employees to create intellectual property, we established an employee invention program under which we compensate employees for inventing things worthy of applying for patents. We also give rewards to the inventors of inventions that contribute significantly to the company. Since instituting the invention reward program in 2001, we have received and approved more than 10 applications. We also give an annual award to employees who contribute to effective intellectual property activities.
Although the foremost use of our proprietary technology is to develop our own business, we also license it to other companies based on our business and research and development strategies—the aim is to leverage the resulting synergy into further development of the company. We also work to increase business opportunities and enhance our presence by proactively introducing the best technology from outside the company and stepping up collaboration with partner companies.
Number of patents owned
We take steps to improve our intellectual property portfolio and properly maintain patents based on research and business policies in an effort to protect the company, enhance collaboration with outside entities through open innovation, and recover research investments through licensing.