Each year, Endress+Hauser invest more than €5 million in the protection of intellectual property. This strengthens the Group’s position against its competitors and spurs on the company’s inventors. The strategy is proving successful: in 2013 the company filed initial patent applications for 236 new developments, bringing the total number of patents and patent applications amounts to almost 5700.
“We operate in an intensely competitive industry,” states Michael Ziesemer, chief operating officer of the Endress+Hauser Group. “Our advantage is secured by innovative products, so in turn we must safeguard these innovations by protecting them with patents.”
In measurement engineering, Endress+Hauser invests heavily in research and development in all fields of activity. Of the 720 employees working in this area, 365 were involved in filing an initial patent application last year. “We strongly encourage our employees to register their ideas as soon as possible and without any reservation,” emphasises Angelika Andres, the physicist and patent lawyer who heads the 20-strong patent department of the Group.
Endress+Hauser celebrates its inventors.
The European Union, the United States and China are the countries in which Endress+Hauser has applied for patents and holds the majority of files. The patent portfolio is regularly reviewed, keeping an eye on markets of decreasing importance: the older patents become, the higher the fees.
How innovative a new invention really is and what advantages it can offer customers often only becomes obvious after many years. Ziesemer cites wireless technology as an example – the wireless transmission of measurement values, which is used more and more in the monitoring of industrial processes. “The peak time for patents was 10 years ago. If we hadn’t patented technologies and the corresponding software and hardware back then, we would have to pay licence fees today and would only be able to supply our sensors as components. Instead, today Endress+Hauser is a successful system supplier in the field of wireless solutions.”
Endress+Hauser’s intellectual property rights strategy fits seamlessly into the long-term goals of the company management. An integral part of this strategy is the honouring of inventors at the annual Innovators’ Meeting. All employees involved in patent applications in the past year are invited and prizes are awarded for patents that are of particular economic significance for the company.
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