In the Asahi Kasei Group, the management strategy, IP strategy, and R&D strategy of each operation are integrated as one, with the creation of new businesses as an important management task. IP activities are advanced in direct connection with the management of operations to gain business advantage by the steady acquisition of IP rights from R&D results, enabling the creation of new businesses and the securement of profitability in existing businesses.
The core operating companies take the lead in formulating IP strategy for each operation in line with the relevant business characteristics. Essentially, equal emphasis is placed on the quality and the quantity of patents. The primary focus is on strengthening existing businesses, and strategic licensing is performed when it is deemed an effective means to heighten the contribution of IP rights to our own business operations.
A relationship of mutual trust and reliance is fostered between the personnel working on IP and those working on R&D, as the IP and R&D functions advance in close coordination to strengthen business operations.
The Asahi Kasei Group considers reliable and effective patent searching to be vital, and thorough patent searches are performed at critical phases in the process of developing patent rights. It has become part of the corporate culture that the patent search is routinely utilized to help clarify the positioning of businesses and technologies, and facilitates the development of the optimum IP portfolio.
Having the acquisition and maintenance of effective IP rights as a guiding objective for R&D is an important key to the expansion of high-earnings operations and the development of businesses that create value for the customer.
The securement and enforcement of firm IP rights play an important part in the expansion of global businesses as a pillar of strategy in the Asahi Kasei Group's mid-term management initiative. To support the effort to enhance IP worldwide, personnel from Corporate IP are stationed in the three key markets of Europe, the US, and China. As China continues to grow in importance for our business operations, IP strategy in China in particular has become an essential point of focus.
The ongoing reinforcement of IP in these three key international markets and throughout the world will prepare the ground for further expansion of global operations.
The Asahi Kasei Group maintains a strategic database (SDB) of patent information to enable its strategic analysis in the management of its IP portfolio. Key aspects of the utilization of this SDB include 1) tracking trends in technologies, in markets, and in other companies, 2) identifying subjects for R&D, 3) clarifying the positioning of technologies and patents, including those of other companies, and 4) identifying patents which would pose an impediment to R&D and to business operations, and formulating countermeasures.
One unique characteristic of this SDB is the inclusion of supplementary information specific to each individual patent (both in-house patents and other company patents) as related to each R&D project. The supplementary information includes a rank of importance, status of use, technology category, and countermeasures to other company patents.
Using this SDB, the IP Liaison Group and the Technical Information Group of Corporate IP work closely together with each R&D organization to formulate and implement countermeasures in response to other company patents as well as plans for in-house patent applications.