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Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

The Asahi Group views intellectual property activities as essential for developing its business. As such, we actively acquire rights in line with business development, investigating and taking appropriate action against the violation of our rights under related laws and regulations to avoid losing the degree of freedom we have over our business activities.

At the same time, we focus our efforts on developing organizational systems and rules aimed at respecting the intellectual property rights of third parties.

We do so primarily by investigating to confirm that the rights of a third party have not been infringed upon when developing new products or selecting new research topics.

In addition, we promote the sound growth of industry and cost-effectiveness by maintaining only the rights we need, while transferring to other parties or relinquishing those rights that offer no business development potential.

Management System

An intellectual property unit has been established within Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. to strengthen intellectual property right-related activities over the entire Group and to drive intellectual property activities that contribute to business operations. The unit undertakes intellectual property-related work to enable the Group to promote efficient product development and R&D that also take intellectual property into consideration in addition to building governance systems in response to a globally expanding Group structure and business.

In doing so, it collaborates closely with related sections in Asahi Group Holdings, as well as sections within Group companies including those responsible for R&D, production, and marketing. Not only does the unit take action to avoid risk and implement protective measures, it also pursues initiatives to create efficient and highly effective intellectual property that contributes to the business of Group companies, and to strategically obtain and make use of intellectual property rights.

Sharing of Intellectual Property Information

The Asahi Group is developing a system to centrally manage the intellectual property owned by each Group company. Centrally managing and allowing for the sharing of information relating to each Group company’s intellectual property has paved the way for the efficient use and management of such information. In addition, it has developed an environment that allows the intellectual property rights held and their implementation to be mutually understood.

Intellectual Property Right Activities

When acquiring intellectual property rights, the Asahi Group investigates the intellectual property rights of third parties in conjunction with invention and discovery, and brand building, relating to the intellectual property. In terms of overseas applications, decisions as to which countries to acquire the rights in are made through deliberations with related sections, with due consideration given to management policy and the Group’s intentions with regard to its overseas business.

In particular, the Group’s overseas business development is premised on a borderless approach, so the intellectual property unit collaborates with related sections to make overall decisions as it undertakes the appropriate investigations, applications, intermediate processing, exercising of rights, and licensing.

Based on a philosophy of respect for the rights of the Asahi Group and of others, the unit initiates an investigation when an infringement of the Group’s rights is suspected, and takes appropriate action in line with the laws and regulations of each country.

Patent/design right registrations (Asahi Group)

  FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Patents / Design rights 62 54 126 118 132

Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd.; Asahi Breweries, Ltd.; The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co., Ltd.; Asahi Soft Drinks Co., Ltd.; Asahi Group Foods, Ltd.

Number of cases in Japan only.

Trademark registrations (Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd.)

  FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Trademarks 60 50 70 55 39

Number of cases in Japan only.

Reward for Inventions

To encourage employees in their creation of intellectual property and to contribute to corporate growth, the Asahi Group has established the Regulations on Inventions by Employees as a means of balancing the rights of the Group with the rights of its employees who have created intellectual property including inventions.

Intellectual creations subject to the Regulations on Inventions by Employees include patents, utility models, designs, plant varieties, and know-how. Additionally, under the Japanese Patent Act, the Asahi Group pays rewards for intellectual creations that have been ceded to the Group as inventions by employees. The types of rewards include an “application reward” paid when an application is filed, and a “achievement reward” that is paid upon an evaluation of the invention’s achievement.

Evaluations are made by the Invention Review Board, which reviews and decides upon either the level of contribution made to the Group’s business performance when the invention is utilized in-house, or the compensation paid when transferring or licensing the invention out to a third party. In addition, a system has been put in place to ensure the satisfaction of both the inventor and the Group by enabling the inventor to make a formal objection to the Review Board should he or she object to the content of review decisions made.

Rewards paid for inventions (Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd. and Asahi Breweries, Ltd.)

  FY2016 FY2017 FY2018 FY2019 FY2020
Number of inventions meriting rewards 41 54 45 35 47

Number of cases in Japan only.