ユニクロの特許紛争事件に見る中小企業による特許の活用の困難さ
UNIQLO checkout machine

2021年5月20日、ユニクロを展開するファーストリテイリング社は、IT企業のアスタリスク社と争っていた特許訴訟に敗訴したとのニュースが 伝えられました。 アスタリスク社は、 セルフレジに使用されている商品のタグの情報を読み取る技術の特許 (JP6469758) を保有しており、ファーストリテイリング社に対して、ユニクロで使用しているセルフレジについて、ライセンス料の支払うよう要求していました。しかし、 報道によれば、ファーストリテイリング社は、この特許は無効にされるべきものだから、ゼロ円でのライセンス提供をアスタリスク社に要求していたとのことです。

中小企業の皆様へ:知的財産は利益をもたらします
Intellectual Property Brings Benefit to SMEs

予算が限られているので、特許などの知的財産権を保有する余裕はないと思っていませんか?特許を取得する前に、まずは収益を上げることに注力したいと考えているかもしれません。そんなあなたに、今日はいくつかの調査結果をご紹介したいと思います。

日本が無形資産担保融資の改革に着手
intangible asset-backed lending

日本政府が、企業が技術や顧客基盤などの無形資産を一括で担保に入れることができる制度の検討を始めたそうだ。日本では、特に中小企業向けの銀行融資においては、土地や工場などの不動産担保が中心で、事業の価値があまり考慮されていないと指摘されていました。新制度の狙いは、こうした状況を改善することにあります。優れた技術やノウハウを持つ中小企業が、資金調達の機会を増やすことができるのは素晴らしいことです。

新型コロナウイルスのパンデミック時に日本政府が行ったもう一つの宣言
Partnership

新型コロナウイルス(COVID-19)のパンデミックの状況において、治療薬やワクチンの開発が切望されています。しかし、このような治療法の開発には、特許が障害になるのではないかと危惧する声もあります。 そのため、コロナウイルス対策のための特許などの知的財産権を行使しないことを誓約あるいは宣言する動きがあります。例えば、米国のOpen COVID Pledge や日本のCOVID対策支援宣言 です。

中小企業の知的財産を盗む日本の大企業
IP theft

Japanese large companies have been stealing SMEs’ intellectual property. This issue was brought up in a working group discussing the improvement of business conditions for SMEs or subcontracting companies, as reported in our previous article. Then, Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) conducted surveys on the handling intellectual property in the transactions in manufacturing industry, and published the report on June 14 2019. JFTC had responses from 15,875 manufacturers, and received reports of 726 incidents. The reported incidents include: Forcing the disclosure of know-how, to manufacture in-house or make other cheaper companies manufacture the product using such know-how. Doing joint research only by name, in which only a subcontracting company works […]

大企業と中小企業の間の知的財産問題の解決に取り組む日本政府

The previous article on possible revision of IP litigation system covered different positions taken by large companies and SMEs; – i.e SMEs asking for improvement of the status of patent holders and large companies wanting the maintenance of  the status quo. Now another confrontation between them has been obtaining attention. According to the document distributed in a government-appointed working group discussing the improvement of business conditions for SMEs or subcontracting companies, some experts in the field of antitrust and subcontracting law have brought up the issue of intellectual property rights and know-how having been siphoned from subcontracting companies into large companies in dominant bargaining position. In response to this suggestion, […]

Japan to facilitate introduction of salable SME businesses to foreign companies

There may be an increase in cases where foreign companies acquire Japanese SMEs. Japan is facing the issue of business succession of SMEs. Many SMEs have problems of aging managers and undecided successor. The government believes that there is a potential that approximately 6.5 million jobs and GDP of JPY 22 trillion (USD 200 billion) will be lost by 2025, if left unaddressed, according to the document published in January 2018. Therefore, in order to prevent closing down of good-standing SMEs, the government is considering introducing them to foreign companies via JETRO.   JETRO told us that it has been discussing it in the following directions: JETRO will be granted […]

Creators contribute to IP business matching

A Japanese local government Kawasaki-city, which plays an active role in patent licensing between large companies and SMEs as presented here, has set out on a new endeavor. Kawasaki-city invites creators to an IP business matching event to ask them to propose applications of patented technologies of participant large companies. For this, Kawasaki-city works with an agent company CREEK & RIVER to ask dispatch of the creators. Here is a press release (in Japanese) for this project, published by CREEK & RIVER. In this scheme, the key is whether or not the creators can propose specific products that SMEs are most interested in implementing such patented technologies. Also, extra care […]

日本の地方銀行が知的財産情報を利用して融資の可能性を高める

Recently, alternative lending has been attracting attention in Japan. Alternative lending is a business loan option that falls outside of a traditional bank loan. For example, a Japanese electronic commerce and Internet company Rakuten gives a loan to its online shopping site owners using daily accounting data, and an accounting software company Yayoi also provides a loan to the users based on accounting data stored in the cloud. The banks seem to be losing opportunities to make a loan. Considering such situation, some banks reportedly have started collaboration with IT companies to develop similar services. There have been move to use intellectual property information for examination of new loans. Japan […]

Local government provides strong support for patent licensing between large companies and SMEs

After having posted the article regarding the intellectual property business matching model, we received inquiries on the model. So, we would like to explain it in a little more detail here, based on the material we received from a local government. It’s called “Kawasaki model” in Japan, because Kawasaki-City started a project under this model as a pioneer in 2007 to revitalize local industry while involving large companies successfully, and attracted attention from other local governments. The basic concept of this model is patented technology transfer from large companies to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). It could be a win-win solution for both large companies and SMEs. Large companies desire […]