For 20 years now, a separate department at Endress+Hauser has been dealing exclusively with the protection of intellectual property. In 1999, the company merged and realigned all activities in this field. Today, 30 employees – 26 in Germany, 4 in the USA – take care of patent issues, trademark protection and related contracts. The Patent Rights Incentive Programme was launched at the same time. It encourages the Group’s employees to submit invention disclosures.
Dr Andreas Mayr.
“If we want to protect ourselves from unauthorised imitators, we need to be aware of all relevant developments,” says Angelika Andres, physicist and patent attorney who has headed the Group’s IPR department since 1999. Her team determines whether the submitted inventions are worthy and eligible for protection. This applies in four out of five cases. The specialists then draft a patent application that grants comprehensive protection for the invention.
Success can be measured in numbers
In 1999, Endress+Hauser submitted 55 initial patent applications – in 2019 there were an impressive 318. “We took a leap forward in the first year after the introduction of the Patent Rights Incentive Programme and registered almost twice as many patents,” says chief operating officer, Dr Andreas Mayr. “Since then the numbers have been steadily growing.” The share of patents related to digitalisation is increasing, and the field of analytical technology, a strategic focal point, is also gaining importance.
Endress+Hauser was granted 677 patents worldwide last year, protecting the company’s products in all major European markets as well as in China and the USA. Today, the Group’s entire IPR portfolio comprises more than 8000 patents and applications. This is mainly due to the work of the more than 1100 employees in research and development, but any employee can file an invention disclosure, innovation is not limited to certain areas.
Awards for inventing and not inventing
The 20th Endress+Hauser Innovators’ Meeting should have taken place this year, but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. These meetings focus on the exchange between inventors. At the same time, prizes are awarded: Endress+Hauser honours economically important patents, particularly active innovators, the improvement of processes and procedures – and the reuse of patents already granted. “You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel!” concludes Andres.
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