With the innovation in information and communication technologies in recent years, next-generation industries such as AI, IoT, and big data are gaining momentum, while economic globalization and industry transformation are also accelerating. Given this situation of increasingly fierce global competition to produce innovation, companies need to pursue cutting-edge intellectual property initiatives in order to improve their international competitiveness.
Risks and Opportunities for the Casio Group
Intellectual property is an intangible asset created through the intellectual creativity of people, and it cannot be monopolized in a visible manner. If it cannot be protected in some manner, there is a risk that it will be easily stolen or copied by others. When investing large sums into research to complete an invention, only to see it stolen away, the whole point of the investment is lost, and there is a risk that investment could decline, resulting in a decrease in new technology development. As a result, Casio’s technical and business divisions work together in line with its management strategy on intellectual property initiatives. Casio actively pursues intellectual property application rights for priority technology areas and newly developed products aimed at the future, and utilizes these rights to protect intellectual property globally in key countries. These efforts are designed to protect Casio’s business and contribute to corporate profits.
Casio takes a medium- to long-term perspective in order to increase its technology management ability, and is systematically promoting research and development for the creation of future business. While recognizing R&D results as intellectual property, Casio is taking steps to ensure that they are properly managed and utilized in order to secure profits. Casio places importance on intellectual property as an important measure of corporate value. In order to effectively promote intellectual property activities, Casio has set the following goals for promoting intellectual property activity, and implements them group-wide for effective utilization of intellectual property.
Intellectual property goals
Casio is working to increase its intellectual property capacity using the following goals.
- Increase the intellectual property capacity of Casio
- Protect technology and products globally with strong intellectual property capacity
- Guarantee creative technology and product development through strong intellectual property capacity
Role of the Intellectual Property Department
Since its founding, Casio has worked to develop innovative new technologies and products that are completely original and have never existed before. The protection of these development results through the creation of intellectual property rights is vital to ensuring corporate competitiveness. At the same time, protecting Casio brands and designs from counterfeiting by securing intellectual property rights is also an important activity for the company.
The Intellectual Property Department aims to secure intellectual property rights on a global level. Its role is to utilize patent, design, and trademark rights in order to help establish competitive advantage for corporate management.
The center also broadly manages intellectual property (rights) such as copyrights and trade secrets as well as general intangible properties, while signing contracts with third parties and resolving disputes.
The Intellectual Property Department is located within the Product Development Headquarters, an organization created to enhance cooperation between all departments related to product development. While collaborating closely with relevant departments on a daily basis, the Intellectual Property Department is working to maximize the value and promote the effective utilization of intellectual property created by Casio in the research and development stage.
Casio implements various intellectual property activities. Casio actively utilizes the intellectual property that it has accumulated over the years, and carries out activities to protect its businesses. The company conducts ongoing R&D necessary for sustained growth, and has put in place various systems for producing new intellectual property.
1. Patent application and rights acquisition activities
Casio constructs patent nets based on patent application and registration in priority fields (selection and concentration), and actively promotes activities for the acquisition of effective patents based on quality improvement. The company carries out patent application and rights acquisition activities worldwide, including in the USA, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and other Asian countries.
Global patent portfolio (fiscal 2019)
2. Intellectual property rights utilization
In addition to securing intellectual property rights for its inventions and other proprietary developments, Casio works to ensure freedom of operations by preventing legal claims from other companies and earns profits by licensing its technologies to other companies (including cross licensing). The company also uses intellectual property as a barrier to deter other companies from entering the same business, and carries out activities to establish competitive advantage for corporate management. In particular, Casio takes stringent measures to combat counterfeit products, and cooperates with government agencies to remove fakes from the marketplace.
3. Patent expert system
Casio initiated a patent expert system in 1994 in order to promote the ongoing creation of outstanding intellectual property. With the aim of business strengthening through stronger intellectual property, engineers with high-level understanding of technologies and leadership skills have been assigned to each division as patent experts. While cooperating with the Intellectual Property Department from positions within their respective divisions, these patent experts work to strengthen the intellectual property abilities of their respective organizations.
Here are details of specific activities.
- Patent activity planning based on ascertainment of technology and development trends at Casio and other companies, as well as target management
- Discovering and updating inventions
- Evaluation of patent applications, determination of direction for patent creation according to business strategy, as well as evaluation of patent maintenance
- Surveys of patents at other companies, patent infringement avoidance, and patent risk management
- Creation of new businesses centered on intellectual property
4. Invention award system
Since 1968, Casio has had an award system for those employees that contribute to inventions and designs. By increasing the incentive for inventors and designers, the system fosters the desire for in-house engineers to take on the challenge of discovering new technologies. In accordance with Article 35 (Inventions by Employees) of Japan's revised Patent Act, which took effect in April 2005, Casio has revised its environment for employee inventors. It updated its intellectual property rules and created a consultation process in which the employee inventors can voice opinions in the revision of the rules. It also implemented a system for employee inventors to file an objection to monetary reward amounts. Additionally, Article 35 (Inventions by Employees) of Japan's newly revised Patent Act, which is intended to resolve instability in the attribution of rights to inventions by employees, took effect in April 2016. Accordingly, Casio updated its rules specifying that the attribution of the right to receive patents originally goes to the employer (Company), in order to resolve such problems as “procedures for joint inventions made with employees of other companies” and “double transfer of inventions by employees.” The rules are revised as needed to respond to the expectations of employee inventors and adapt to the changing times and evolving environment.
Based on this award system, the Intellectual Property Department works to properly evaluate intellectual property results and to recognize and reward outstanding engineers and designers.
5. Intellectual property training system
In order to create a stronger awareness about the acquisition of intellectual property, Casio holds intellectual property seminars to deepen employee understanding and interest in intellectual property. The company also distributes relevant information online (through intellectual property website content), and uses outside educational organizations such as the Japan Intellectual Property Association and the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation. In this way, the company is promoting various intellectual property education activities.
6. Brand support activities
Protecting rights to the Casio brand
In order to promote smooth corporate operations on a global level, Casio has obtained 1,715 registered trademarks in 192 countries around the world, most of which are product trademarks, in order to protect the Casio brand. To further strengthen protection of rights to the Casio trademark, the company has been seeking official recognition of the Casio mark as a well-known trademark in various countries. This type of certification has already been obtained in several emerging countries.
In recent years there have been more trademark applications by other companies—mainly in emerging economies such as China and India—which try to mimic the well-known Casio brand. As a result Casio has been strengthening its monitoring activities and its efforts to prevent the trademarking of look-alike brands.
Trademarking of the Casio Brand Design rights acquisition (as of March 31, 2019)
Casio has registered the Casio brand for product trademarks in the countries indicated in green. In the countries indicated in yellow, trademark examination has been delayed in some fields, there is no trademark registration system, or applications are not being accepted due to the politician situation.
Activities for minimizing risk entailed by new product naming and design, as well as rights acquisition
While avoiding the risk of infringing upon the design or trademark rights of other companies, Casio is actively promoting business support activities based on the strengthening of Casio's own design and trademark rights.
Design rights acquisition (as of March 31, 2019)
Trademark rights acquisition (as of March 31, 2019)
Counterfeit product removal and consumer protection activities
The development of information and communications technology in recent years has facilitated the extensive spread of counterfeit goods on the Internet. Casio products are no exception to the damage caused by counterfeits. In order to guard consumers from the damage of fake products and to protect the Casio brand and increase its value, Casio has established a department tasked with counterfeit countermeasures and is taking action to get counterfeits off the market. Casio will continue to actively cooperate with efforts by government authorities to stamp out counterfeits by exposing factories that make counterfeit goods and stores that sell them, intercepting counterfeits at customs, and monitoring and eliminating counterfeits sold on the Internet.