Intellectual Property Management

The NGK Group considers intellectual property (hereinafter referred to as “IP”) rights to be an extremely important management resource. The worldwide acquisition and utilization of rights such as patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks support the NGK Group’s business and R&D.
Every year, we hold the Intellectual Property Activity Meeting, where the heads of the IP Department and other departments discuss and formulate IP activity targets based on the business environment and development targets. Progress is checked and followed up on quarterly to promote the development of a strategic IP portfolio.
The IP Department and relevant departments will continue working closely together to promote IP creation activities that contribute to the realization of NGK Group Vision: Road to 2050 and expansion of existing businesses and strive to protect and utilize rights appropriately.

Number of Patents Held

This graph shows trends in the number of patents held. As of March 31, 2022, NGK held 3,374 domestic patents and 4,444 foreign patents.
This image depicts the number of patents held by NGK as of March 31, 2022. They totaled 3,374 domestic patents and 4,444 foreign patents.

IP Management System

Integrated management of IP for the entire NGK Group is carried out by the IP Department. This department also pursues IP -related activities together with various other departments and divisions.

This diagram shows the IP Management System. The IP Department centrally manages intellectual properties.

Responsibilities of the IP Department

  • Application for/acquisition of patents, utility models, designs: Establish IP rights for NGK’s R&D achievements to protect 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
  • Administration relating to acquired patent rights, including maintenance of rights, operation of excellent invention rewards, and cooperation with patent law firms
  • Application for/acquisition and maintenance of trademark rights for corporate logos and product trademarks
  • Copyrights
  • In-house training on IPs

Dissemination of IP Information

The Information Utilization Group takes the lead in disseminating information on search know-how, examples of information utilization, and analysis of technological trends across the entire NGK Group to support the creation process of IPs.
In FY2021, the Information Utilization Group disseminated relevant information on each topic regarding carbon neutrality related to the NGK Group Vision. This included CO2 isolation and capture technologies among the technological trends gleaned from its analysis of IPs.

IP Training

Training for young engineers

We provide e-learning and seminars with the aim of providing basic training for young engineers and of up-skilling for inventors.
Also, focusing primarily on young engineers in the R&D Department, we conduct training in patent search methods. These methods are taught via individual, computer-based practical training.
Since FY2020, training has been carried out via remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to encourage participation. In FY2021, we also held exercise-based workshops remotely.

IP Training Provided in FY2021

Intended participants Participants
E-learning of Patent Act introduction Young engineers 48
Small-group workshops Engineers 144
Seminars to acquire skills for using the IP search program Engineers 182
Small-group workshops Engineers in the Business and the R&D Departments 314
(total for 21 sessions)

IP Training

Employee invention reward system to provide rewards for employee inventions

In order to further encourage employees to create excellent inventions, we launched a revamped employee invention reward system, which is divided into four categories: application rewards, registration rewards, implementation rewards, and excellent invention rewards.
Excellent invention rewards honor contributions to the company with large financial rewards and commendations for particularly excellent inventions. These rewards include the Contributory Invention Reward for patents and know-how resulting in remarkable contributions to NGK’s business, and the Innovative Invention Reward for patents, patent applications, and know-how which is innovative.
In FY2021, after multiple strict examinations, one was chosen for the Contributory Invention Reward and one for the Innovative Invention Reward.

Addressing IP Risks in foreign countries

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

Overseas training of IP Department personnel

In FY2020, a member of the IP Department was dispatched to a patent law firm in the U.S. for one year in order to help us improve the efficiency of our operations by gathering the latest IP information from the U.S, undergoing practical training, and facilitating smoother communications with attorneys.

A group photograph of members of a U.S. patent law firm who provided assistance and the staff member of the IP Department.
Staff member pictured with members of a U.S. patent law firm who provided assistance