Organizational Structure to Support Intellectual Property Activities
(1) Organizational Structure
Under our intellectual property policies on the creation, protection, and effective use of intellectual property rights, Konica Minolta has formulated intellectual property strategies for each business field, and development divisions and the Intellectual Property Center work together to carry out these strategies. The Intellectual Property Center, an organization under the direct authority of the president, is responsible for overall administration and implementation of Group-wide intellectual property activities.
The Intellectual Property Center has a Patent Division that performs liaison activities to support the discovery and creation of inventions, patent applications and securing intellectual property rights, and responding to the patent rights of other companies. These liaison activities are conducted at liaison activity sites (see figure at bottom left) established at each development site to support invention discovery and creation activities through close collaboration between Patent Technology Office personnel and developers.
The Hachioji, Tokyo site in the Tokyo region, the largest site of the Intellectual Property Center, features a new research and development building*4, the Group’s largest, with seven aboveground floors and a floor area of approximately 40,000 square meters. Starting in fiscal 2014, this site will be occupied by approximately 1,500 developers and other personnel who will perform work primarily on technology relating to the Business Technologies Business and common fundamental technology and advanced technology. The new R&D building is positioned as a “creation zone” where multi-faceted technologies will be integrated and developers with different skills will provide those skills to each other to create new value with the aim of developing attractive products. For example, in the Business Technologies Business, by consolidating digital printing system development functions including design, prototype creation, and evaluation, developers will be able to effectively collaborate and development efficiency will increase, leading to the development of new products. In addition, development of technologies integrated with common fundamental technology and advanced technology can also be expected. The new R&D building will also be used by the Intellectual Property Center through consolidation of sites that were dispersed throughout the Tokyo region at the Hino, Tokyo and Hachioji, Tokyo sites. As new and integrated technologies are created and applied, the Intellectual Property Center will increase inter-departmental communication with each development department, share information and knowledge on a daily basis, conduct liaison activities with developers who possess various skills, secure intellectual property rights, and respond to the rights of other companies.
IP Licensing Division was created within the Intellectual Property Center. This office will work in close collaboration with the Patent Division to conduct public relations operations including patents negotiations with other companies, development agreement operations, and other tasks. The staff of the IP Licensing Division includes attorneys licensed in the U.S. and graduates of U.S. law schools and is capable of performing international legal affairs relating to technology. The Intellectual Property Center also has overseas offices (in San Mateo, California in the United States and Beijing in China) where seconded Japanese personnel and local staff perform a wide range of intellectual property-related tasks including discovering inventions and securing intellectual property rights.
(2) Training and Educational Activities
The Intellectual Property Center also supervises the Group’s educational programs on intellectual property and leads training and educational activities including providing developers with information on intellectual property law, identifying inventions, writing patent specifications, conducting technological research, and other activities essential for developers. All developers undergo basic training on intellectual property during the first year after they are hired, and starting in the second year, courses on intellectual property are made available through the Konica Minolta College, a company-wide educational system. The Konica Minolta College is a company-wide educational system that enables employees to voluntarily take courses to enhance their skills. A wide range of courses on technology, business, and other fields are offered, and the program is tailored to meet the needs of all employees who are eager to learn. The Intellectual Property Center offers three courses on intellectual property—an introductory course, a mid-level course, and an advanced course. Developers who have completed their basic education can select a course based on their own experience and position to continue their education. These educational courses are taught by Intellectual Property Center personnel as educational programs.
These types of educational programs are not limited to Japan, but are also provided to overseas developers. For example, the development site in China created and implements a three-stage introductory educational program that includes a beginner’s course, fundamentals course, and practical course. Educational programs for developers are conducted to provide developers basic knowledge concerning patents and to teach them how to approach inventions and how to draft patent applications. Starting in fiscal 2014, a mid-level educational program will be added to the introductory educational program.
Konica Minolta provides the staff of the Intellectual Property Center with comprehensive opportunities to gain specialized knowledge concerning the legal and judicial systems in different countries and to gain technical skills concerning patent practice through in-house study groups and OJD. We are currently implementing plans to assign employees to outside educational institutions and overseas law firms and patent law firms and to send employees to study at universities in the United States and China.
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