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Intellectual Property Activities

Common refrains heard within Canon’s research and development division include, “Read patent bulletins rather than research literature,” and “Create draft patents rather than reports.”
It is in Canon’s DNA to avoid patents held by other companies, instead developing original technology and protecting it through patents.

2018/12/27Activity introductions

#Patents#Mechanical engineering#Electrical engineering#Computer science#Physics#Chemistry

Canon in the Top 5 Among U.S. Patent Recipients for 32 Consecutive Years and Top Japanese Company for 13 Years Due to Proactive IP Activities

Canon believes that acquiring patent rights for its proprietary technologies is an essential and important aspect of expanding operations globally.

Every year, Canon engineers submit more than 10,000 ideas with patent applications filed by country and region. In the United States, Canon has been the top-ranked patent recipient among Japanese companies for 13 straight years.

There are two aspects to Canon’s intellectual property strategy. The first is defensive—to protect Canon’s proprietary core technologies from being infringed upon by others. The second is offensive—to create advantages for Canon’s operations by acquiring multiple patents that other companies, not just Canon, need to use, and then negotiating licenses for their use. Canon strengthens its product development capabilities through both defensive and offensive intellectual property management.

Number of U.S. Registered Patents Figures tabulated by Canon

Year

Rank overall

Rank among
Japanese companies

No. of patents

2017

3rd

1st

3,285*

2016

3rd

1st

3,665*

2015

3rd

1st

4,134

2014

3rd

1st

4,048

2013

3rd

1st

3,820

2012

3rd

1st

3,173

2011

3rd

1st

2,818

2010

4th

1st

2,551

2009

4th

1st

2,200

2008

3rd

1st

2,107

2007

3rd

1st

1,983

2006

3rd

1st

2,366

2005

2nd

1st

1,829

Based on annual information issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce

  • *
    Figures for 2016 and 2017 taken from IFI Claims Patent Services

Patent Strategy to Tackle Xerox’s Monopoly

Canon’s emphasis on intellectual property rights dates back to the 1960s, when the company entered the copying machine market.

In order to break through the airtight patent wall that U.S.-based Xerox had erected for its copying machines, Canon succeeded in developing the NP method, an all-new electrophotographic technology that did not infringe on Xerox’s patents. Canon obtained a patent for the NP method. By protecting the differentiated proprietary technology, and also acquiring patens for peripheral technologies, Canon put itself in the position to be able to negotiate license agreements for other companies’ technologies that Canon needed. This experience created the foundation for Canon’s intellectual property strategy and has been passed down through the generations as part of Canon’s corporate DNA.

イメージ

Actual application submitted for patent bulletin publication (excerpt)

Engineers Work Closely with Patent Engineers to Cultivate Ideas

One major characteristic of Canon’s intellectual property strategy is the active exchange of communication between engineers and patent engineers, who are in charge of intellectual property. Some 300 patent engineers at Canon operation sites throughout Japan examine new ideas and the research results of engineers from various angles, searching for ways to maximize the number of inventions that can be generated.

Basic Policy of Canon Intellectual Property Activities

Intellectual property activities are vital to support business operations

The fruits of R&D activities are products and intellectual property rights

Other parties’ intellectual property rights should be respected and attended properly

Collaborations with Global Companies

In this day and age, where cars are equipped with multiple cameras and some 100,000 patents exist for smartphones, it has become increasingly difficult for Canon to protect its technologies on its own.

In a move to assert the company’s legitimacy and circumvent international patent disputes, Canon signed a cross-licensing agreement* with Microsoft in July 2014. Furthermore, with the aim of reducing patent litigation risks involving Patent Assertion Entities (companies specializing in filing patent-related lawsuits aimed at collecting licensing fees), six companies, including Canon and Google, established the License On Transfer (LOT) Network. As of December 2017, 192 companies have joined as members. In this way, Canon is working to coordinate with other companies to strengthen its competitive edge internationally through intellectual property.

  • *
    In a cross-licensing agreement, patent-right holders (companies, etc.) grant a license to each other permitting the use of a patent or patents held by the other party.

History of Awards for Canon Inventions

Several Canon inventions have often been awarded Japan’s National Commendation for Invention (sponsored by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation), presented in recognition of inventions of great merit in Japan. Through the establishment of an internal Commendation for Invention system, Canon gives special recognition to the efforts of engineers and other meritorious individuals for their outstanding inventions.

History of Canon’s Receipt of Special Prize, National Commendation for Invention and Internal Invention Awards over the past 20 years

Name of Invention

Special Prize, National Commendation for Invention, sponsored by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation

Internal Invention Award

Year

Name of Award/Prize

Year

Name of Award/Prize

Invention of shading-reduction technology for CMOS sensors

2015

The Prize of The Chairman of Japan Business Federation

2005

President’s Incentive Award

Design of a compact, lightweight digital cinema camera with outstanding mobility

2014

The Prime Minister Prize

2013

President’s Award for IP Achievement

Invention of a printer using intermediate transfer member, without a cleaning mechanism

2013

The Prize of The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology

2004

President’s Award for IP Achievement

Box-shaped inkjet printer

2006

The Asahi Shimbun Prize

2005

President’s Award for Excellence

Large-area sensor for real-time digital radiography system

2005

The Imperial Invention Prize

2001

President’s Award for Excellence

Invention for a small-size optical system capable of high-speed zoom

2003

The Asahi Shimbun Prize

2004

President’s Award for Excellence

Slim flatbed scanner design

2002

The Prize of The Chairman of Hatsumei Kyokai (JIII)

2001

President’s Award for IP Achievement

Ozone-less charging method

1999

The Prize of Commissioner of the Japan Patent Of•ce

1991

President’s Award for Excellence

Invention of active type distance measuring device

1997

The Asahi Shimbun Prize

1996

President’s Award for IP Achievement

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