Intellectual Property Initiatives

Protection and Utilization of Intellectual Property

We are promoting intellectual property (IP) management under the fundamental tenet of contributing to an increase of corporate profits by supporting our business activities through IP protection and its utilization.

To achieve sustainable growth in the semiconductor industry where the growth is driven by technological innovation, we are globally expanding our R&D activity including industry-academia collaborations. IP professionals are assigned to headquarters, R&D, and production sites around the world to evaluate inventions created in R&D projects from various perspectives such as technology trends or marketing, and we have established IP portfolios aligned with our technology and product strategies.

Intellectual Property Portfolio

In 2022, the number of inventions created in Japan was 1,226 and 317 in other countries. We have maintained the global patent application rate*1(the percentage of inventions filed in multiple countries among the number of filed inventions as patent application) approximately 70% for ten consecutive years, and the allowance rate*2 of the filed patents has reached 74% in Japan and 81% in the United States. Furthermore, various inventions have been created through collaboration with domestic and overseas business partners, consortium, and academia, and we have jointly filed patent applications on 41 inventions in the past two years. Consequently, the number of active issued patents*3 as of March 31, 2023, is 21,645, which is the largest number in the semiconductor production equipment industry, and we are building our competitive edge in the intellectual property field on a global level.

In recognition of these initiatives, we have been selected as one of the “Clarivate Top 100 Global Innovators 2023” for the second consecutive year. In this award, Clarivate, a global information service company, makes an original evaluation based on patent data, and once a year recognizes “companies or institutions protecting original invention ideas with intellectual property rights, and leading the world’s business through successful commercialization.”

We strive to improve the competitiveness of our products through differentiating our own technologies with building a competitive IP portfolio in terms of both quantity and quality.

global patent application rate

*1:Created based on data considering subsequent applications filed in secondary country and international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty

*2:Created based on internal data for 2021

number of active issued patents

*3:Created based on internal data for 2019.3-2022.3 and LexisNexis®PatentSight® data for 2023.3

Inventor Prize Program

We run an inventor prize program to promote intellectual property creation activities by inventors which support the global competitive advantage of our IP portfolio. In this program, inventors will be recognized at various stages of his or her career as an inventor, such as when an invention is filed for the first time after joining the company.

01TEL Master Inventor

The highest honor bestowed on TEL’s inventors
(Significant contribution to the development of the patent portfolio and exemplary attitude toward IP creation activities)

02TEL Major Inventor

Recognition as a key inventor at TEL
(Top few percent of all inventors)

03Inventor of the year

Recognition as the inventor who contributed the most to the development of the patent portfolio during the year
(Patents registered in each year)

041st Primary Inventor

Commemorating an inventor’s first submission of an invention for patent application after joining TEL

Especially, inventors who have made significant contributions to the TEL Group’s intellectual property activities through the mentoring of their successors in addition to their own inventions are awarded with the title of TEL Master Inventor.
Through this program, we are working on passing the inventive sprit of TEL Master Inventors to junior inventors and promoting active intellectual property activities to maintain and enhance our product competitiveness continuously.

Comment from TEL Master Inventors

Chishio Koshimizu

An eye for spotting trivial phenomena is a real asset

I want to urge you all to consider the essence of matters without being satisfied with things as they are and to master technology. For that, I think it is important to have interest and curiosity and to take one step forward followed by another with one’s own ability, digging ever deeper. That said, however, it is a fact that in many cases efforts do not lead directly to results. I myself have had that experience several times and those were painful times. What I think and experience then, however, leave a deep impression in my mind, and as a result, it helps develop my eye for spotting trivial phenomena. Such an “eye,” indeed, is an asset to a technology developer. Cultivating this “eye” gives birth to new ideas and sudden insights into ways of making them happen. It also enables you to respond quickly to unexpected outcomes. Even if facing the harsh reality of hard work going unrewarded, you must continue your efforts to think by yourself and dig deep. In doing that, I would like you to accumulate lots of experience, because before long, those experiences will lead to the creation of their own new value. With each and every one of you increasing your awareness and skills, I believe TEL’s real capabilities will increase in the future. I anticipate your success.

Kazuhide Hasebe

I will prepare an environment in TEL for young developers that facilitates development

Thank you for honoring me with the TEL Master Inventor Award this time. Receiving this award in the presence of so many great seniors, I feel deeply humbled. Intellectual property rights that give legal protection of rights to new technology as inventions are very important to a growing industry like ours that is creating enterprises as a basis for technological innovation. Even in my own experience thus far, there have been several times when our rights to distinguishing technology were threatened. The solid possession of intellectual property rights and assurance that the scope of those rights can be strategically expanded are absolutely necessary for enabling us to expand our business with reassurance and guard against the undercutting of our distinguishing technology. Innovation is a treasure that the top developers—and only the top developers having broader thought (is that saying too much?)—on that road can obtain. I would like to prepare an environment for development in which all of our young developers can engage in R&D with their feet planted solidly on the ground, and in which they can strive to meet the needs for advanced technology that are increasing day by day. I will also strive to build respect for our technology and developers, so I ask all of you to do your best at inventing new technology.

Kosuke Yoshihara

Let’s enjoy tenacious, persevering thought itself

Many of my proposals did not bring about the expected results, but when I look back once again, I think it was the following two factors that led to my receiving this award. ① Constant awareness that there was room for improvement of certain aspects (issues) of the products involved and ② Thinking of ways to improve them before those around me began approaching me with requests Monozukuri (Japan’s special kind of manufacturing prowess) within a limited development time is hard to do to perfection. I think all of you have had the feeling of really wanting to have advanced further, or, regarding previously existing products, the feeling that the customer would be more satisfied if we could make a certain improvement. I think that being constantly aware of these sorts of tasks along with the constraints and organizing them in your mind is the starting point for creating ideas. When you are hard-pressed, however, ideas just don’t come to you. The timing of your thinking is also very important, I think. It is easier to come up with diverse ideas if you take time to think before those around you approach you with requests, in other words, when you have the mental leeway for it; but more than anything else, the greatest advantage is that you can enjoy the act of thinking itself. Why not try cultivating awareness of issues from now on and sneaking ahead in time to think about them (persevering tenaciously)?

Takayuki Toshima

Enjoy every up and down

I feel humbled to be selected for this prestigious award. I owe this to the members that took part in the development work along with me, and my senior colleagues, who taught me so much. Thank you. I’ve been involved in process development for forty years, since I first joined the company. Looking back, I’ve faced plenty of difficulties, but it was all time well-spent. Long ago, when experimental equipment broke, we had to ask an engineering expert for instructions and repair the equipment ourselves. This experience provided me with a stronger understanding of device hardware, which contributed to the creation of various ideas. Semiconductor production equipment owes its performance to the combining of various technologies, such as mechanical, electrical, software, and process technologies. That’s why I recommend learning about other fi elds, even if only at a basic level. Why is that part used there? How does it work? Learning the answers to questions like these helps with creating new ideas. Also, enjoy every up and down. Things won’t always go smoothly. If things don’t go well and you find yourself in a slump, when you hit the bottom there’s nowhere to go but up. As long as you keep walking, you can make your way out of that valley. My hobby is kendo, and in kendo we have a saying: “Find joy in striking, find joy in being struck.” Of course, it’s important to enjoy winning, but being struck by your opponent and learning your own weaknesses is also a joy. Don’t fear failure, but instead keep pushing forward. I hope we will continue to create many Master Inventors.