Access to Innovation
Small Japanese Contractors Reporting Forced Technology Sharing; Japanese Fair Trade Commission Taking Steps
INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY INDUSTRY NEWS
In June of 2019, the Japanese Fair Trade Commission (kousei torihiki iinkai, FTC) reported that in its survey results from about 16,000 small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in manufacturing (the Commissioned surveyed 30,000), there were over 700 reported cases of larger client corporations leveraging their influence to acquire intellectual property from the smaller subcontracting companies.
The FTC reported cases subcontractor SMEs’ being forced to share blueprints and data with the large corporations buying their products, and even of being pressed to allow joint research to all fall into the hands of their stronger counterparts.
The FTC stated that it will punish serious infractions of the Antimonopoly Act. It will also be holding informational sessions from this July for various industry groups, educating about examples of unfair IP sharing and about the Antimonopoly Act’s injunction against a powerful company’s using its power to gain unfair advantage over another company.
In recent years, while China’s policies on “forced technology transfer” have been an issue, this issue is evidently also a problem in Japan (and, for that matter, around the globe). Protecting the IP resources of smaller parties is vitally important for sustained economic health, and we hope that each business culture will progress in such ethical practices.
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 The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, “大企業の知財吸い上げ防止、公取委「下請け中小対策」で一手 業界団体などに説明会 [Fair Trade Commission trying to prevent large corporations’ sucking up IP with “small-medium subcontractor measures”; briefing sessions at industry groups],” Newswitch, https://newswitch.jp/p/18249, published July 2, 2019, accessed July 9, 2019.
 SankeiBiz “大手の不当取得知財７３０件 公取委が下請け調査、データ無償提供多数 [730 cases of large corporations’ illicit acquisition of IP; Fair Trade Commission investigated subcontractors; many gave up data for free],” https://www.sankeibiz.jp/macro/news/190617/mca1906170500004-n1.htm, published June 17, 2019, accessed July 9, 2019.
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