Relations with Customers

Intellectual Property

 The Alps Electric Group engages in product creation and therefore ventures to create, protect and utilize intellectual property based on accurate knowledge and understanding so that customers will feel secure using our products and services.
 Viewing intellectual property-related activity as a business activity contributing to sustained growth, Alps Electric is strengthening internally generated intellectual property in core technology and product domains that serve as a platform for growth, while also working to speed up intellectual property creation and application in areas where we hope to adopt new technologies early on by teaming up with universities and corporations in joint development and alliances.

Basic Policy

Basic Policy on Intellectual Property

Alignment of Intellectual Property Activity with the Product Life Cycle

 The Alps Electric Group divides the product life cycle for businesses and product groups, spanning stages such as introduction, growth and maturity, into CTB, GTB, MTB and WTB—Create the Business, Get the Business, Maintain the Business and Watch the Business—and deploys different intellectual property strategies accordingly.
 During CTB and GTB stages, we make an effort to apply for and acquire patents through internal generation of intellectual property and also support activities involving outside parties, such as alliances and licensing. Moving into MTB and WTB stages, we explore application of intellectual property to new businesses alongside consideration of withdrawal from the business. By adopting the intellectual property cycle from CTB to WTB, we carry out activities to ensure survival and growth in an industry marked by volatile market changes.

Alignment of Intellectual Property Activity with the Product Life Cycle

Goal to Enhance Intellectual Property Quality Through Multifaceted Activities

 Alps Electric's intellectual property action policy under the 8th Mid-Term Business Plan is: strengthen and improve the quality of held intellectual property; strengthen structures for intellectual property management within the Alps Electric Group worldwide; and ensure thorough implementation of intellectual property education. We have given ourselves a goal to enhance the quality of intellectual property through multifaceted activities, including evaluation of intellectual property quality based on an original intellectual property index, strategic patent application and acquisition in line with evaluations, combined application, and training.

―Pursuing Efficiency and Effectiveness of Group Activities Worldwide ―

 In pursuing greater efficiency and effectiveness of intellectual property right acquisition, application, examination and analysis, the Alps Electric Group looks to share information about intellectual property, make mutual use of rights and carry out joint examination and analysis through establishment of intellectual property infrastructure and introduction of common tools for examination and analysis within the Alps Electric Group. We will also build structures for patent application and contestation by the Alps Electric Group worldwide, contributing to the expansion of global business.

―Combining Intellectual Property to Enhance Corporate Value ―

 The Alps Electric Group is acting strategically by making use of patents, designs, trademarks and other intellectual property in combination as a way to contribute to business development by the Group worldwide. In fiscal 2016, we sought to enhance the image of products employing Alps Electric's tactile technology by creating a new logo for the HAPTIC™ trademark and applying to register the trademark in Japan and other markets. Through such combined use of intellectual property, we are striving to protect the competitiveness of our products—namely, their technology, appearance and brands—and thereby enhance corporate value.

―Initiatives for Building Up Intellectual Property Holdings―

Number of Patent Aplications Filed (ALPS Electronic)

 The Alps Electric Group is looking to build up its holdings of intellectual property by identifying, in new product planning and initial development stages, common characteristics among envisaged product lineups and filing applications for basic intellectual property rights accordingly, as well as filing applications overseas according to market and commercialization trends.
 And to promote cross-organizational activities—for example by compiling intellectual property portfolios that revolve around technologies used in a number of different business domains—engineering and intellectual property departments hold regular strategy meetings and implement activities corresponding to the stage of business creation.
 Efforts to strengthen activities relating to the filing of applications for patents and other intellectual property in Japan and overseas continue. In fiscal 2017, we plan to file more than 800 applications.

―Promotion of Intellectual Property Activity Using an Original Intellectual Property Index and Rewards―

 In order to build up an effective intellectual property portfolio, the Alps Electric Group visualizes the quality of held intellectual property using an original intellectual property index and strategically applies for and acquires intellectual property rights, such as by adapting to changing market and product trends. In addition, intellectual property management regulations were revised in fiscal 2016, introducing a new rewards system that heightens the incentive to invent. For example, individual teams engaged in product or technology development receive rewards based on an evaluation of their intellectual property activities according to an original index. Thus, intellectual property activity is promoted using both an intellectual property index and a rewards system.