The proper protection of intellectual property (IP) rights promotes technological progress and sound competition, and also contributes to realising affluent lifestyles and the development of society.
The Mitsubishi Electric Group recognises that intellectual property (IP) rights represent a vital management resource essential to its future and must be protected. Through integrating business, R&D, and IP activities, the Group is proactively strengthening its global IP assets, which are closely linked to the Group’s business growth strategies and contribute to both business and society, and also working on protecting IP rights.
Structure of the Intellectual Property Division
The IP divisions of the Mitsubishi Electric Group include the Head Office IP Division and the IP divisions at the Works, R&D centres and affiliated companies. The activities of each IP division are carried out under the executive officer in charge of IP at each location. The Head Office IP Division formulates strategies for the entire Group, promotes critical projects, co-ordinates interaction with external agencies including patent offices and is in charge of IP public relations activities. At the Works, R&D centre and affiliated company level, IP divisions promote individual strategies in line with the Group’s overall IP strategies. Through mutual collaboration, these divisions work to link and fuse their activities in an effort to develop more effective initiatives.
Integrating Business, R&D and IP Activities
Global IP Strategy
The Mitsubishi Electric Group identifies critical IP-related themes based on its mainstay businesses and important R&D projects, and is also accelerating the globalisation of IP activities by filing patents prior to undertaking business development in emerging countries where an expansion of business opportunities is expected. Furthermore, resident officers are assigned to Mitsubishi Electric sites in the United States, Europe, China, and Southeast Asia to take charge of IP activities and strengthen the IP capabilities of business offices, R&D centres, and affiliated companies in each country. Through these initiatives, we strive to create a robust global patent network.
As an indication of the Mitsubishi Electric Group's IP capability and global IP activities, the company ranked No. 2 in Japan in terms of the number of patent registrations (in 2022) announced by the Japan Patent Office (JPO), and No. 4 in the world in terms of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications by businesses (in 2022) announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
In conjunction with creating a patent network, we are also actively pursuing activities towards acquiring design rights in Japan and overseas, to protect both the functional and design aspects of our technologies.
(Top 5) PCT applicants: businesses, 2022 (WIPO, PCT Yearly Review)
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No. of patent registrations in 2022 (Japan)
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Further Strengthening Global IP Capabilities
Open Technology Bank Activity
In order to realise a sustainable future, Mitsubishi Electric launched activities of the Open Technology Bank, which promotes internal and external collaborations based on intellectual property in fiscal 2022. In the past, the primary use of intellectual property was for competition between companies (monopolising their use, preventing imitation, and exercising rights in relation to other companies); however, going forward, the Company will actively use intellectual property as tools for promoting collaborative creation.
Promoting external collaboration
The Mitsubishi Electric Group has a wealth of proprietary technology assets (patents, knowledge, etc.) in a wide range of areas, from home to outer space. The Open Technology Bank activities aim to create new value and businesses through combining and multiplying Mitsubishi Electric's technologies with partner companies' technologies and ideas. This is achieved through efforts to support partner companies in developing new products and services by granting licences for Mitsubishi Electric's technology assets that contribute to solving diverse social challenges. Through these actions of taking its technologies that contribute to solving various challenges including the realisation of a decarbonised society and preparation for natural disasters, and granting licenses for these technologies to various industry sectors and fields, Mitsubishi Electric actively promotes co-creation with external parties based on intellectual properties, and thereby contributes to the realisation of a sustainable future.
Strengthening internal collaboration
As a result of its active intellectual property activities, the Mitsubishi Electric Group is maintaining a high level in number of patent applications and registrations both in Japan and overseas. On the other hand, the execution of each patent is closed within the works that filed the relevant patent in many cases, and patented technologies have not fully been rolled out internally. As such, we internally released a technology map that classifies and visualises our patents with a focus on technology and social challenges in an attempt to promote the utilisation of technologies beyond division boundaries and to create synergy as a comprehensive electrical and electronics manufacturer. This map is designed to allow people to reference summaries of each patent, the division and name of the inventor, as well as other details. This reference information will promote internal collaboration across department boundaries.
IP Strategy for International Standardisation
In order to expand business in global markets, the Mitsubishi Electric Group is actively promoting international standardisation. Activities to acquire patents that support international standards (e.g. standard essential patents) are openly promoted. As the member of an organisation in which patent pools for Digital Broadcasting, MPEG, HEVC, Blu-ray Disc™* and Mobile communications collectively control standard essential patents, the IP revenues obtained through the organisation are contributing to improvement and growth in business earnings. The Group is also working to increase activities for acquiring patents in competitive fields involving international standards and promoting IP activities that contribute to increasing product competitiveness and expanding market share. In the field of 5G mobile communication systems, which are expected to proliferate in the future, we are not only involved in activities to acquire standard-essential patents, but we are also leveraging our technologies to promote IP activities that make our products even better.
- * Blu-ray Disc™ is a trademark of the Blu-ray Disc Association.
Respecting IP Rights
The Mitsubishi Electric Group firmly recognises the importance of mutually acknowledging and respecting not only its own intellectual property rights but the intellectual property rights of others as well. This stance is clearly set forth in the Mitsubishi Electric Group Conduct Guidelines and practised throughout the Group.
Any infringements on the IP rights of others not only violate the Code of Corporate Ethics and Compliance, but also have the potential to significantly impair the Group’s continued viability as a going concern. The resulting potential impairments include being obliged to pay significant licensing fees or being forced to discontinue the manufacture of a certain product.
In order to prevent any infringement on the IP rights of others, various educational measures are provided mainly to engineers and IP officers, to raise employee awareness and promote greater respect for the IP rights of others. At the same time, a set of rules has been put in place to ensure that a survey of the patent rights of others is carried out at every stage from development to production, and is strictly enforced throughout the entire Group.
The Mitsubishi Electric Group also works diligently to prevent any infringement on its IP rights by others. In addition to in-house activities, we place particular weight on collaborating with industry organisations while approaching government agencies both in Japan and overseas as a part of a wide range of measures to prevent the counterfeiting of our products.
Co-operation in IP Policies
IP policies—such as those for prompt and efficient patent examination, international standardisation activities, measures against counterfeit and pirated goods, and the establishment of a global patent system—encourage fair competition and contribute to building affluent lifestyles and society.
Based on this awareness, Mitsubishi Electric makes various proposals regarding IP policies and amendments of relevant laws from the industrial perspective, through its activities with institutions such as the Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters and other governmental agencies of the Patent Office, and industrial organisations such as the Keidanren and the Japan Intellectual Property Association. Given today’s advances in economic globalisation, Mitsubishi Electric thus engages in active exchanges of views and information with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and patent offices abroad, and co-operates in establishing IP policies from a broad, global perspective.
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