Business Domains and Intellectual Property Activities
(1) Business Technologies Business
The Business Technologies Business domain consists of the office segment with MFP as the core product and the Production print segment, which handles digital printing systems used in commercial and in-house printing.
In the office segment, Konica Minolta is conducting development regarding the functionality of MFP including reliability and resolution of image output as well as the provision of diverse business solutions that customers find it easier to operate. The results include development of the multi-touch user interface (UI) that is operated through simultaneous touching of the operating panel by multiple fingers to enlarge, reduce, or rotate images and intuitive and easy operation of MFP similar to the operation of a Multi-touch UI Brazil The United States* China* Japan* Singapore Australia India Dubai Turkey German Russia Czech England France *Base of intellectual property activities Overseas business bases ‒ 6 ‒ smartphone or tablet through the adoption of flick operations that allow images to be shifted by sliding one’s finger in the direction of the move with it lightly swiping the screen.
In addition to collaboration between tablets and MFP, we also provide to customers business solutions that enhance operational productivity such as “bizhub Connector”, an application that allows scanned data to be uploaded or directly printed by connecting MFPs to various cloud services.
This consistent consideration for user convenience has been well received, and Konica Minolta’s MFPs have won the MFP Line of the Year award from Buyers Laboratory LLC., an independent office document hardware and solution product rating agency based in the United States, in four consecutive years, an unprecedented result anywhere in the world. The A3 color MFPs that won the award experienced an increase in sales volume, and overseas market shares reach the highest levels.
In the field of control and solutions that make possible the user-friendly operability and the diverse business solutions mentioned above, Konica Minolta has published more than 650 patent applications and registered more than 450 patents in Japan each year in the past five years running, and we are steadily building up a patent portfolio. Patent applications in this field account for approximately half of all patent applications in the Business Technologies Business.
Konica Minolta is conducting further development of emulsion polymerized toners created from core technologies and developed Digital Toner HDE, which features enhanced resolution and energy-saving performance, as the successor to Digital Toner HD and Digital Toner HD+. We have created optimal and natural textures for all media using three-dimensional hybrid structures including functional polymers and are making substantial contributions to electric power consumption reductions by making possible adhesion at lower temperatures. Digital Toner HDE is starting to be used in production print systems in commercial and industrial printing businesses and is contributing to our leading market share worldwide in the production print segment.
As of the end of March 2014, the cumulative number of published patent applications in Japan in the emulsion polymerized toner field was approximately 1,000 and the cumulative number of patent registrations in Japan was approximately 380, putting Konica Minolta among the industry’s leaders in this field.
(2) Industrial Business
As a result of development that employs multiple core technologies including materials technology and optical design technology, Konica Minolta successfully developed flexible OLED lighting panels with new value including color adjustment functions and an ultra-thin format. Light + Building 2014, the world’s largest tradeshow for lighting and building, which was held in March and April 2014, Konica Minolta displayed demonstration models (upper right photo) of thin, lightweight, and gently bendable flexible OLED lighting panels with a color adjustment function, unfolded like the feathers of a peacock*5. This display was the subject of considerable praise as an example of future illumination.
To provide intellectual property support for the OLED lighting business, Konica Minolta has filed more than 1,000 patent applications worldwide in areas of technology related to this business. Recently, we have focused efforts on securing rights relating to these patent applications in preparation for the sale of OLED lighting panels. As a result, we were able to increase the number of patent registrations worldwide by approximately fourfold from fiscal 2009 to fiscal 2013. The number of patents held is also increasing steadily, surpassing 630 as of the end of March 2014 (see right graph).
(3) Healthcare Business
In the field of X-ray imaging equipment, we accelerated digitization, and the format is evolving into digital radiography (DR). DR is an imaging method that features high image quality and outstanding immediacy as a result of the capture of irradiated X-rays on a sensor panel and creation of a direct digital image. Konica Minolta’s lineup of imaging products used for DR includes the Aero DR, which was launched in 2011 and features greatly enhanced convenience as a result of wireless transmission of image data and a substantial reduction in the weight of the body; and the Aero DR 1012HQ*6 (photo to right), which was added to the Aero DR series in 2013 and is the smallest such unit with a size of just 10 inches by 12 inches. The Aero DR series boasts one of the highest shares of the domestic market for cassette-type DR devices, and overseas sales are strong. In the three years since it was launched, cumulative sales have been approximately 5,000 units. DR-related patent applications are filed worldwide to secure technologies that set us apart from others such as (1) scintillator technologies (technologies that convert X-rays to light) that can achieve high-quality images with low radiation exposure and (2) device body technologies that support lightweight structures and durability. The total number of applications exceeds 300.
Diagnostic ultrasound systems offers the benefits of producing diagnostic images in real time and the ability to conduct repeated examinations with little physical burden on patients. The market for such equipment is expected to grow even further in the future. In early 2014, Konica Minolta acquired the Diagnostic ultrasound systems business of Panasonic Healthcare Co., Ltd. with the aim of reinforcing and expanding its Healthcare Business*7. We will conduct development by integrating the Diagnostic ultrasound systems technologies acquired from Panasonic Healthcare with core technologies including chemical materials technologies developed in the photo film business and image processing technologies accumulated in the X-ray imaging field, leading to the Creation of New Value.
In conjunction with the acquisition of this business from Panasonic Healthcare, Konica Minolta also acquired related patent assets. As a result, our worldwide patent assets in this field greatly increased by approximately fourfold compared to before the acquisition. We will effectively use these patent assets for the further expansion of business.
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