On January 27, 2023, the Japan Patent Office (JPO) and the National Center for Industrial Property Information and Training (INPIT) hosted the Global Intellectual Property Strategy Forum 2023. The annual forum, since 2015, aims to provide information that contributes to the development of IP strategies linked to management strategies by introducing the latest domestic and international topics related to management and IP strategies in the drastically changing environment surrounding business and intellectual property. In addition to the on-site event, the forum was live-streamed and archived for a limited time so that a wide range of people could participate.
One of topics at the forum was “A Startup Going Global! Trajectory of IP Strategy with Growth” where a panel discussion was held among, Mr. Masahiro Sanjo (CFO of Cyfuse Biomedical), Mr. Kazuhide Sekiyama (CEO of Spiber), and Mr. Iwao Yoshino (CEO of Microwave Chemical Co.), with a moderator, Mr. Iwatani, Kazuomi (INPIT).
Mr. Sanjo, Mr. Sekiyama, and Mr. Yoshino founded their startups and utilized intellectual property and its rights to develop and grow their companies.
Cyfuse Biomedical, since 2010, provided services in regeneration of various tissues and organs by bio 3D printing where organs are formed by the self- aggregation of cells. Spiber, since 2007, developed biomass-based as clothing fabrics for sustainability and circular economy. Microwave Chemical Co., since 2007, provided services utilizing microwave into chemical industries.
Interestingly, all three companies are based on a platform service. This means that the techniques are provided to the clients based on the platform and protecting those techniques through intellectual property rights is important in securing and growing their businesses.
Additionally, Mr. Sanjo, Mr. Sekiyama, and Mr. Yoshino, though being in management positions, have collaborated with the researchers/developers/patent right holders to utilize their intellectual property rights.
For example, Mr. Sanjo described that Cyfuse Biomedical, before deciding to do IPO, got its IP rights reviewed by a third-party to understand and manage their rights. After the review, they held a discussion with the researchers and developers to understand what is important for them in developing new technology.
Mr. Sekiyama emphasized the importance of standardization. Spiber was able to update a standardization of texture to be used in the certain fashion field and the standardization can help grow their IP.
Mr. Yoshino focused on what rights Microwave Chemical Co. was trying to protect. Since Microwave Chemical Co. provides techniques and know-how to the clients, Microwave Chemical Co. used both patents and trade secrets to protect techniques publicly and privately.During the panel discussion, it was commonly shared that all of these companies had developed their businesses through their utilizations of IP rights. When doing so, it was important that managers and those who handle IP rights collaborate to understand what rights are to be protected. Additionally, the panel recommended that startup companies should start utilizing their IP rights at an early stage.