Canon's history is a history of embracing technological challenge. Over the course of many years, in pursuit of the potential of imaging, the company has conducted research and development into new technologies in various fields, and grown these technologies to realize new businesses. The following pages provide an introduction to some of Canon's pioneering technology-development achievements.
Patents as a Strategy for Protection & Promotion of Technologies
An oft-heard mantra in Canon's research and development divisions is that instead of reading a paper, one should read a patent; instead of writing a report, write a patent.
Careful study of preceding patents of other companies by engineers and patent specialists not only helps to prevent patent infringements on the part of Canon, but also has a beneficial effect in terms of the company's own engineering prowess. Meanwhile, the acquisition of as many patents as possible ensures that the company can continue to benefit from technical endeavor while also providing intellectual property for cross-licensing purposes, thus making it possible to enhance the degree of freedom with which design and development can be undertaken.
Canon first setup a specific team to deal with patent-related issues in 1958 with the establishment of the Patent Section within the development-oriented engineering department. Patent strategies were then intensified in the latter half of the 1960s as the company made its first forays into the copying machine market. These strategies played an ever more important role as Canon has striven to diversify, and by ensuring their full deployment in the cornerstone technologies of precision engineering and optics, and also in electronic engineering, recording technologies, system engineering, and communication, the company successfully broadened its horizons.