Basic policy for intellectual property
The Ajinomoto Group established the Group Shared Policy on Intellectual Property, which pursues the following initiatives to establish competitive advantage, generate profit, and grow globally.
1. Acquire intellectual properties strategically and efficiently, including the expertise behind the technologies that form the core of businesses
2. Incorporate external technologies and engage in cooperation, including open innovation
3. Use and exercise rights to the Group’s proprietary technologies through licensing, litigation, and other means
4. Protect products and enhance brand value through trademarks and other means
5. Minimize the risk of infringement by respecting third-party IP rights and conducting thorough assessments
6. Provide survey and analytical data to the Group’s business and R&D departments
7. Cultivate human resources capable of IP-related tasks and utilize both internal and external networks
The Ajinomoto Group takes a firm stance toward companies that infringe on our IP rights and we protect these rights through warnings and the filing infringement lawsuits, among other actions. The information systems department and IP department plan and execute defensive measures to protect trade secrets. In collaboration with the internal auditing department, these departments carry out overall internal control related to trade secret management and protection for the Group.
Intellectual property management framework
Ajinomoto Co., Inc. supervises IP (patents, designs, trademarks, etc.) for the entire Ajinomoto Group in line with Instructions Regarding Licensing and Administration of Intellectual Property. Affiliate company Intellectual Property Expert Co., Ltd. provides central services related to surveys and IP rights management. We also have resident staff in the United States, specialized staff in Russia, and key persons designated at Group companies in Southeast Asia and South America, and work with patent law firms. The three bases in Japan, the United States, and Russia cooperate to secure strong patent rights, particularly in biotechnology.
Impact of Ajinomoto Co., Inc. on the patents of other companies
Ajinomoto Co., Inc. was ranked No.1 in the 2019 rankings of firms capability to prevent other food industry companies from obtaining patent rights. The rankings are published by Patent Result Co., Ltd. (Tokyo, Japan). This ranking is a compilation by company of the number of patents owned by a company cited as the basis for rejection of a patent application by another company in the course of patent examination processes during 2019. Companies having a large number of patents cited are considered as advanced companies with extensive prior art that blocks competitors from obtaining rights.
Education for Employees
The Ajinomoto Group conducts ongoing trademark seminars to provide Group employees basic knowledge on trademarks and the rules for displaying trademarks such as AJI-NO-MOTO® . These seminars serve to enhance employee appreciation of trademarks and prevent the AJI-NO-MOTO® trademark from being used as a generic term. We also hold regular seminars to educate Group employees on other IP-related issues.