Some of the KAI razors have more than 20 patents backing them.
‘We carefully investigate whether or not we will get caught by existing patents on new products coming up from development. You can’t make any mistakes and this task requires quite a bit of human communication,’ says Okuda, a chief manager.
For manufacturing companies, possession of a patent leads to a big edge in competitiveness. That is why you may think that patent applications are the bulk of their work. Yet in fact, they are spending most of their time investigating and judging existing patents.
‘Patent application is actually a small part of a much larger process,’ says Akatsuka, also a chief manager.
‘When we are trying to bring a new product to the market, sometimes the patent office is the only department providing a voice of opposition. In such cases we may need to ask the development team to change their design so as not to conflict with the patents of other companies. The patent office is like a gatekeeper before going to market. When I can change a design plan without disappointing the development team, I am extremely happy,’ says Okuda. They are the unsung heroes of KAI.