The proper protection of intellectual property (IP) rights promotes technological progress and sound competition, and also contributes to realizing affluent lifestyles and the development of society.
The Mitsubishi Electric Group recognizes 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.
The IP divisions of the Mitsubishi Electric Group include the Head Office IP Division, which is the direct responsibility of the president, and the IP divisions at the Works, R&D centers, 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, coordinates interaction with external agencies including patent offices, and is in charge of IP public relations activities. At the Works, R&D center, 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
The Mitsubishi Electric Group identifies critical IP-related themes based on its mainstay businesses and important R&D projects, and is accelerating the globalization of IP activities also 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 centers, 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.1 in Japan in terms of the number of patent registrations (in 2018) announced by the Japan Patent Office (JPO), and No.2 in the world in terms of Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) applications by businesses (in 2018) announced by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
In conjunction with creating a patent network, we are also actively pursuing activities toward acquiring design rights in Japan and overseas, to protect both the functional and design aspects of our technologies.
*1 Starting in FY2019, we began using the number of overseas patent applications of Mitsubishi Electric as a single entity
Further Strengthening Global IP Capabilities
In order to expand business in global markets, the Mitsubishi Electric Group is actively promoting international standardization. Activities to acquire patents that support international standards (e.g., standard essential patents) are openly promoted. As the member of an organization in which patent pools for Digital Broadcasting, MPEG, HEVC, DVD, Blu-ray Disc™*2 and Mobile communications collectively control standard essential patents, the IP revenues obtained through the organization 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 also leveraging our technologies to promote IP activities that make our products even better.
The Mitsubishi Electric Group firmly recognizes 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 practiced 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 organizations 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.
IP policies—such as those for prompt and efficient patent examination, international standardization 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 organizations such as the Keidanren and the Japan Intellectual Property Association. Given today's advances in economic globalization, Mitsubishi Electric thus engages in active exchanges of views and information with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and patent offices abroad, and cooperates in establishing IP policies from a broad, global perspective.