Sustainability

Risk Management

Intellectual Property Management

The NGK Group encourages the creation of intellectual property (IP) rights and works to ensure proper protection and use of IP rights. In addition, based on the policy of respect for the rights of others and ourselves, it aims for a strategic patent network to be built within the close cooperation between the Intellectual Property Department and other divisions such as Business, Research and Development, and Technology Divisions.
Specifically, it features a patent mapping function to present the internal and external patent landscape of specific technology areas using charts and graphs, which can be easily shared within the Group.
To prevent patent infringement risks, we regularly conduct patent monitoring of other companies for product families and development themes to update our database.

Change in the Number of Patents Held

Graph showing the number of patents held. As of the end of March 2020, we held 3,513 Japanese patents and 4,485 foreign patents.
Illustration representing the number of patents held as of the end of March 2020: 3,513 Japanese patents and 4,485 foreign patents.

Intellectual Property Management System

Integrated management of intellectual property for the entire NGK Group is carried out by the Intellectual Property Department. This department also pursues intellectual property-related activities in conjunction with various other departments and divisions.

Diagram showing the intellectual property management system. The Intellectual Property Department, a specialist department, carries out centralized management of intellectual property.

Responsibilities of the Intellectual Property Department

  • Application for/acquisition of IP rights (patent, utility model, design): Establish IP rights for NGK's research and development achievements to safeguard corporate assets on a legal basis
  • Patent search: Analyze the current patent landscape of other companies to prevent patent infringement risks
  • Administration and operation of patent management systems
  • Administrative work relating to acquired patent rights, including maintenance of rights, operation of the employee invention compensation system, and cooperation with patent law firms
  • Application for/acquisition and maintenance of trademark rights for corporate logos and product trade names and marks
  • Copyright
  • In-house training of intellectual property

Promoting Intellectual Property Training

Training for Young Engineers

E-learning and seminars are provided with the aim of providing basic training for young engineers and of up-skilling for patent applicants.
Also, focusing primarily on young engineers in the Research and Development Department, trainings in patent search methods are conducted. These methods are taught via individual, computer-based practical training.

IP Training Provided in FY2019

Intended participants Number of participants
Patent Act introductory e-learning Young engineers 71
Seminars on the patent system (Patent I/II/III) Young engineers 151
Seminars to acquire skills for using the IP search program Employees in charge, engineers 74
Small-group workshops Young engineers in the Business and the Research and Development Divisions 113
(total for 11 sessions)

Employee Invention Compensation System to Provide Incentives for Employee Inventions

In order to further encourage employees to create outstanding inventions, a revamped employee invention compensation system was launched in April 2019, which is divided into four categories: application incentives, registration incentives, implementation incentives, and excellent invention incentives.
The aim of the newly established “excellent invention incentives” category is to recognize, via a substantial financial reward and commendation, the contributions inventors of particularly outstanding inventions have made to NGK. Recipients are presented with either the Contributory Invention Award, which recognizes patents that have contributed significantly to business performance, and the Innovative Invention Award, which recognizes patents and patent applications for truly innovative inventions.
In fiscal 2019, after repeated and meticulous scrutiny of the applications from inventors, two applicants were chosen for the Contributory Invention Award and three for the Innovative Invention Award.

Responding to Intellectual Property Risks Outside Japan

To support our business for automotive exhaust purification ceramic products, for which we conduct manufacturing on a global scale, we have built a mechanism for properly managing inventions at overseas plants. NGK promotes the practice of intellectual property management overseas at the same high level as in Japan.

Yohei Seguchi of the Information Utilization Group gave a special lecture at the JPDS Fair in Nagoya.

“Patent Searching Know-How” Special Lecture Delivered at Outside Seminar

At the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Naka Ward in Nagoya City) JPDS Fair in Nagoya (sponsored by Japan Patent Data Service Company), a special lecture was provided by Yohei Seguchi of the Information Utilization Group. Japan Patent Data Service (JPDS) is a company specialized in providing intellectual property information services, patent management systems, and other resources. It holds the JPDS Fair every year in order to outline its products and to introduce new services and functionality. The theme of Seguchi's talk was “Important Considerations when Performing Patent Searches with NewCSS*”. He discussed various topics, such as NGK's patent search activities and important points to remember when setting patent search queries.

  • NewCSS is the name of the patent data service.