Voice of Employees
―Intellectual Property Activities that can be Experienced at Epson―
Voice of Intellectual Property Division Members
Epson's intellectual property activities ("IP activities") are being promoted by approximately
200 members of the Intellectual Property Division, IP-related personnel from development and business
divisions, and IP-related personnel from Epson Group affiliates in Japan and overseas.
Here, four members of the Intellectual Property Division share their experiences in Epson's IP activities.
Expanding experiences from patent application prosecution to IP landscape surveys
Since my major at university was in the field of science, I started my career in patent application prosecution in the field of printers. Subsequently, in order to accumulate experience in the upstream stages of product commercialization, I was assigned to the patent application prosecution work in the field of technology development. I became involved in the formulation and promotion of IP strategies in addition to application prosecution for various development themes (sensors, etc.) that were being launched at the time, and I also gained experience in contractual work in joint development with universities and external partners. And currently, I am engaged in daily operations with the goal of contributing to management and business strategies through the use of IP landscapes.
In this manner, I think one of the major characteristics of the Intellectual Property Division is that we can experience a wide range of operations within a single department, including not only patent application prosecution but also IP strategy formulation and strategic proposals utilizing IP landscapes. I myself have been engaged in a wide range of work while experiencing a sense of growth. In my current duties, I am deeply involved with the business and development divisions from the upstream stage of business, such as the creation of new businesses and planning proposals, with the goal of promoting innovation and creating the future. I would like to grow with my team members so that we can create and nurture businesses together.
Worldwide trademark management in collaboration with operations divisions and sales and marketing
At the time I joined the company, I was assigned to a department that had nothing to do with intellectual property, but since I wanted to acquire some expertise and work in some specialized field, I applied for a transfer to the Intellectual Property Division. I was transferred to the trademark management department, where my main duties were to obtain and manage rights to the Epson Group's trademarks. It was just at the time when the organization was strengthening its trademark operations, so I, as well as other people in the department, was often required to do things on my own and with uncertainties, and I learned my work through trial and error.
For some time after my transfer, my duties focused on procedures for acquiring and maintaining rights, but eventually, I became responsible for handling trademark-related contracts and managing trademarks for domestic and overseas subsidiaries and also became involved in brand management and the acquisition and sale of businesses from a trademark management standpoint. I also promoted the development of an internal system for domain name management.
Subsequently, after a period of maternity and childcare leave, I became a manager.
For manufacturers, intellectual property may have a strong image of patents, but patents are not the only important rights in the execution of business activities. It is also necessary to provide broad support to operation departments based on intellectual property rights, not merely to obtain rights, and the content of work and required abilities also vary. As such, although there are difficulties, it is a very rewarding place to work. Because the Intellectual Property Division offers a variety of opportunities to play an active role, I feel that this is a workplace where I can develop a diverse career, even if I take maternity or childcare leave, or even while raising children.
Transition from patent application prosecution to liaison work using patent rights
When I joined the company, I was assigned to the Intellectual Property Division, where my duties included prosecuting patent applications for printer-related technologies and reviewing other companies' patents. Following this, I had the experience of being a trainee at a U.S. patent firm. Currently, I am engaged in rights utilization in Europe and China, in other words, liaison work. Working closely with local attorneys, I am promoting infringement verification, litigation procedures, negotiations with opponents, and so on. Through these activities, it is rewarding to contribute to the business by maintaining and improving the company's brand and technological superiority.
At Epson, we are engaged in IP activities through a mix of patents, trademarks, design rights, etc., and we have a team of members who have diverse experiences in handling the many types of work that we do. As an organization, we have the groundwork for people from all backgrounds to play an active role, and I think it is a great environment for people who are interested in and willing to tackle a variety of things.
As for myself, my knowledge and experience in liaison work are still limited and I have a lot to learn. I would like to learn many things and improve my ability to respond to situations in cooperation with IP members, operations division members, outside attorneys, and other members of the company. I would also like to be able to plan and promote IP activities that contribute to the business at a higher level.
More strategic patent acquisition activities in collaboration with the invention department
From the time I joined the company, I have been mainly involved in patent application prosecution. After having worked in patent application prosecution for the development division, I am currently in charge of work for the software design department. When I was in charge of work for the development department, I felt it was rewarding to be able to apply for and obtain patents for technologies that had not yet been implemented by other companies. On the other hand, in the technical field that I am currently in charge of, there are many competitors, and I do my work while thinking about how to protect Epson's technology using patents as a fortress.
Having the opportunity to gain a variety of experiences in such different fields has been a valuable asset for me.
One of the characteristics of Epson's IP activities is the high importance of IP activities in the business activities. For example, while it is necessary to file applications for technologies to be incorporated in products, it is also important from a strategic perspective to file applications with an eye to the future. Without the consensus from management of the operations division, it is difficult to obtain onsite cooperation for such activities. On this point, Epson emphasizes IP activities, and we are able to obtain information from the invention division based on the consensus of the operations divisions. And it is very rewarding for me when I am able to convince inventors to engage in the activities that I am aiming for. In areas other than application prosecution, I have duties related to the utilization of our own patents and examination of other companies' patents. Such work often has to be done within a short deadline, but even with such restrictions, working as a team toward a goal and achieving results is rewarding.
In this way, I feel the attraction of being in charge of intellectual property that belongs to a company is the ability to strategically plan and execute IP activities for the company's business.