Daikin understands that intellectual property rights constitute a valuable company asset. We thus strive to both protect these rights and use them effectively. Our Group Conduct Guidelines state that we will respect other companies' intellectual property rights and ensure that our inventions do not infringe on these rights.
4. Respect and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
Recognizing that intellectual property rights are important company assets, we shall strive to protect and maintain our intellectual property rights and effectively utilize them. Furthermore, we shall respect and make every effort not to infringe upon the intellectual property rights of other companies.
Based on the Group Conduct Guidelines, we formulated more detailed points in our Compliance Action Guidelines, which state that we will acquire patents and avoid infringement by having the person in charge of R&D at Daikin be the person responsible for a patent and having the researcher/developer understand that he/she is the sole developer of the product or invention.
In new product and new technology development, part of the design review process involves verifying that these products and technologies do not infringe on existing patents. In collaborations with other companies, we distinguish between open technologies and confidential technologies, and confidential technologies are designated as such and kept out of reach.
To actively support researchers/developers, the legal department assigns an intellectual property manager in each division.
The intellectual property managers keep in contact with each other, and manage the variety of intellectual property matters that come up daily (filing/acquisition of rights, reduction of risk of infringement upon and infringement by other companies, etc.). They also educate employees at various levels on intellectual property and reward Daikin patent awardees. And to ensure strategic implementation of intellectual property activities, they form patent networks with researchers/developers and strengthen global intellectual property survey functions.
Moreover, with the globalization of our R&D bases, we are appointing intellectual property managers at each of these bases.
We will continue to strive to better manage our intellectual property rights by acquiring and using a greater number of patents and higher quality patents.
We are also strengthening our intellectual property rights systems at our overseas R&D bases. At Daikin Industries, Ltd. and at overseas group R&D bases, starting with those of our Group companies in China, we are striving to obtain various intellectual property rights. We also continue to offer classroom and e-learning, and on-the-job training for intellectual property managers and developers at overseas R&D bases.
China has overtaken the U.S. as the country with the most patent applications. It also has more intellectual property court cases than the U.S. Against this background, Daikin is actively acquiring intellectual property rights in China, and is stepping up applications for patents, utility models, devices, and trademarks. In emerging countries like India and Brazil, and in emerging countries in southeast Asia, we are stepping up device applications as a way to effectively prevent product copying and boost patent applications.
We continued these initiatives in fiscal 2020 as we sought to increase the level of intellectual property governance for the entire Group. Since fiscal 2020 was the final year of the five-year plan, we also looked back on previous activities and discussed the vision for the next five years.
In fiscal 2021, as the year of commencing our new five-year plan, we will enhance the intellectual property activities for the entire Group through once again sharing the Group-wide intellectual property policy as well as establishing and implementing regional based intellectual property strategy with collaboration between each location.
To encourage the adoption of R-32 globally, in September 2011 Daikin began offering companies in emerging countries 93 patents related to the manufacture and sales of air conditioners that use R-32 free of charge. In September 2015, these patents were offered to companies worldwide, including developed countries.
In July 2019, we announced our non-assertion pledge describing the grant of free access to our pledged patents, all of which have been filed in 2011 and later, for the manufacture and sale of air conditioners using R-32 single-component refrigerant. Free access to the pledged patents without our prior permission or without a contract in writing enabled other companies to make use of these patents quicker and easier, which represents a step forward in promoting the use of R-32.
Daikin Industries, Ltd. has received the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Award in the Intellectual Property Achievement Awards in fiscal 2020 as a company that makes excellent use of the intellectual property system. This is the second time we have received an award since the Commissioner of the Japan Patent Office Award received in fiscal 2007. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Japan Patent Office present awards through the Intellectual Property Achievement Awards annually to recognize individuals who contribute to the permeation and development of the intellectual property system and corporations who effectively utilize the system to contribute to their smooth operations and development.
We received this award for opening patents on air conditioners using R-32, as well as our open and close strategies on the closed portion of other patents related to air conditioners, which contributes to reducing environmental impact while maintaining competitiveness.
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