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 respect other companies’ intellectual property rights and ensure that our inventions do not infringe on those rights.
4. Respect for and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights
Recognizing that intellectual property rights are important company assets, we 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 patents and having the researcher/developer understand that he/she is the sole developer of the product or invention.
In new product and technology development, part of the design review process involves verification 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 intellectual property department assigns an intellectual property manager in each division’s R&D Department.
The intellectual property managers stay connected with each other, and manage the variety of intellectual property matters that come up daily, which includes filing/acquisition of rights in Japan and abroad, reduction of risk of infringement upon and infringement by other companies, and analysis of intellectual properties. They also educate employees of various ranks and levels on intellectual property and reward Daikin patent awardees. Using this approach, we are strategically implementing intellectual property activities jointly involving researchers/developers and sales representative.
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.
Overseas, we are building an intellectual property rights system tailored to the unique situation of each region to facilitate the globalization of our business operations.
In North America, we have built an in-house team of patent lawyers while in Europe, we assign key persons in intellectual property rights to our development bases to step up patent applications based on regional needs. In China, the intellectual property team of each subsidiary actively applies for patents, including utility models, while working closely with external patent offices. We are also increasing patent applications and effective design applications such as those in India, Brazil and those in Southeast Asia.
In response to the globalization of business, we work closely with each of our business bases outside of Japan to acquire and maintain necessary trademark rights and to proactively combat the infringement of products.
In FY2021, we again shared Daikin’s intellectual property policy with our overseas Group companies following the launch of the Fusion 25 Strategic Management Pan and began consolidating information from each base. The Global Intellectual Property Meeting, at which information on intellectual properties is shared and discussed across the Group, was held online largely grouped into three regions.
In FY2022 and beyond, we will strengthen our collaborative system by kicking off meetings to build teamwork in terms of intellectual properties in each region as needed.
Daikin Industries, ltd. has two systems designed to stimulate employee motivation to invent and spur creation of intellectual property.
The first is the Compensation System for Employee Inventions, a system in which Daikin pays employees for inventions created on the job that result in patent applications as well as successful use of the patent. In FY2022, in addition to paying compensation for patent applications, Daikin compensated employees for 511 successful uses of patents.
The second is the Incentive System for Valuable Patents, which gives employees incentive bonuses for valuable patents. This includes differentiation technologies that greatly contribute to sales, technologies with high expectations as future contributors to business, and patents with a certain level of patent income. In FY2022, we awarded incentive bonuses to the creators of 106 patents.
While these systems are aimed at stepping up Daikin’s intellectual creativity, they also represent an effort to promptly tackle pressing issues such as increasing the quality and quantity of patents in competitive fields, and increasing the number of patents in our key technological fields, in particular in emerging countries. In FY2021, we applied for 1,190 patents in Japan and 597 patents overseas.
In FY2022, in the air conditioning departments, the number of patent applications again increased; and these covered everything from the development of new products that we intend to release to near-future products that make use of AI and IoT technologies. In the chemicals departments, we increased the number of patent applications by clarifying and implementing strategies in each product and technology area.
We will also continue to conduct thorough advance patent surveys so that we can deal with problem patents early on and thus ensure that we eliminate patents that could hinder our development. We will also step up our patent efforts worldwide.
To encourage the worldwide adoption of R-32, which has a lower global warming potential (GWP) compared to conventional refrigerants, 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 176 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.
In July 2021, we newly added 123 patents to this pledge for use of our patents without prior permission related to the manufacture and sale of air conditioners using single-component refrigerant R-32.
In July 2022, we added another 120 patents, including 30 jointly held with Daikin Europe N.V., our European subsidiary.
Today, we have made a total of 419 patents accessible to any party without fee and the need for prior permission or contract.HFC-32 Patent Non-Assertion Pledge
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