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Innovation on the move

Sandvik is one of the world's most innovative companies, with more than 8,000 patents and a steady stream of research and development activities. One challenge is to protect the brand and the trademark.

Business magazine Forbes ranked Sandvik as one the world's 100 most innovative companies in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In addition, last year Sandvik again made the prestigious Thomson Reuters Top 100 Global Innovators list.

More than 8,000 active patents

Inclusion in these impressive listings is fiercely competitive. It reflects Sandvik's strong commitment to helping its customers and the industry itself with new concepts and products. "We now have more than 8,000 approved, active patents," says Joakim Hammarsjö, managing director of Sandvik Intellectual Property AB.

The Thomson Reuters list focuses on companies that generate numerous innovations and patents and includes Apple, Nike and other well-known brands. The Forbes list is partially based on stock market expectations that a company's innovations will lead to new offerings and new markets. In that regard, many of Sandvik's inventions have quickly shown their worth. Some 20 to 45 percent of the company's billings, depending on the business area, stem from products that were introduced to the market in the past five years.

Protectors of the Sandvik brand

Sandvik's culture of innovation confirms its brand as an industry leader and a provider of top-quality products. The strong brand is a huge asset, and Hammarsjö and his staff are vigilant in protecting its rights. "Several times a month we get reports of breaches of a Sandvik patent or unauthorized use of the Sandvik brand," Hammarsjö says. "This has become more and more common."

Sandvik's trademarks also come under attack, says Charlotte Falck, trademark manager. "Every week we get information about different products or company names that have identical or confusingly similar names to ours – similar colours or logotypes," she says.

As a first step, Sandvik Intellectual Property gives a warning. "If we don't get any reaction, we take further measures in collaboration with the business area concerned," says Falck. Often the breaches are unintentional mistakes, she says, "but sometimes they are deliberate, and we have to be prepared for a legal process."

If the protection of the assets is the tough outer skin, then the innovation and continous researchand development within Sandvik are its heart and soul.

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