Patents are a virtue

Epson embrace force sensor robots

Patents are a virtue

May the force be with you: after world’s first in-office paper recycling system, here come Epson’s force sensor robots, as the company continues to safeguard future success with its rich patent portfolio.

With the consistency of waves breaking on a beach, Japanese technology company Epson has recently been unveiling a diverse series of ground-breaking new products – from augmented-reality smart glasses and the world’s first in-office paper recycling system to high-precision robots which use artificial intelligence to sense even minimal amounts of force in six directions.

With the promise of a lot more to come, these products are derived from a handful of core imaging technologies and protected by the company’s rich patent portfolio, which it sees as its engine for achieving 64% global revenue growth by 2025.

In the face of economic globalisation and the rise of new competitors from emerging markets, creating and securing intellectual property (IP) rights for its original advanced technologies has become an even more critical element of business strategy for Epson, the Japanese technology company which today holds 50,000 patents globally.

IP rights protect Epson’s most important assets, from printer and projector imaging technologies to the world’s first in-office paper recycling system and robots enhanced with artificial intelligence.

Alongside its strong pipeline of “breakthrough” technologies, Epson continues to make substantial strides in business inkjet innovation, thanks to Epson’s complete ownership of the manufacturing process. In the past two years, Epson has invested €231 million into PrecisionCore print head production lines in Japan and has moved the bulk of its R&D resources to continue its focus on inkjet printing technology – which is growing by 13% per year in contrast to laser (2%)1. Epson’s Workforce Pro business inkjet models offer not only speed and print quality, but cost and eco-benefits too (such as an 82% reduction in power consumption).

A rich patent portfolio safeguards Epson’s future success, which is why the company applies for approximately 4,000 patents every year and at any one time is processing applications at patent offices in 20 or more countries. Sustaining this momentum is a key source of the company’s competitive strength, as it must fend off not just new hardware competitors from emerging markets but also a broader range of software and information technology challengers.

The company also files about 50% of its applications in Japan directly with the Patent Office instead of going through a patent attorney’s office, enabling its team to stay on top of patent best practices. For most of its foreign patent applications the company works directly with local patent agents (such as the European Patents Office) instead of routing them through Japan first. This keeps costs down, enables the company to communicate its patent strategy more clearly and obtain more powerful rights.

What does it all lead to? We’re making innovations in: