Intellectual Property Initiatives

Protection and Utilization of Intellectual Property

We, Tokyo Electron, are promoting intellectual property (IP) management under the basic tenet of contributing to an increase of corporate profits by supporting our business activities through IP protection and its utilization.
In order to achieve sustainable growth in the semiconductor industry where its growth is driven by technological innovation, we are globally expanding our research and development activity including industry-academia collaborations.
As well as corporate headquarters, we have allocated IP professionals at R&D and production sites around the world to evaluate projects from various angles such as R&D and marketing perspectives, and we are striving to enhance our competitiveness through building IP portfolios aligned with our technology and product strategies.

Intellectual Property Portfolio

In 2022, the number of inventions created in Japan was 1,266 and 317 in other countries. As of March 31, 2022, the number of active issued patents is 19,572, which is the largest number in the semiconductor production equipment industry.
The global patent application rate, the percentage of patent applications resulted in multi-country filings, has been approximately 70% for 10 consecutive years, and the allowance rate of the filed patents has reached 74% in Japan and 81% in the United States.
Furthermore, many 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.
Through these managements, we are building our competitive edge in the intellectual property field on a global level.
As a result of these activities, we were 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 selects “companies or institutions providing new value to the world with capabilities, consistency, incredible creativity, and new thinking”.


Fig. 1: Number of active issued patents


Fig. 2: Global patent application rates (the percentage of inventions filed in multiple countries among the number of filed inventions as patent application) *Tentative data as of the end of January 2023

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)?