Protecting Innovation: An Interview with Steven Zhou, Chief IP Officer of Jereh Group
In this interview, we speak to Mr. Steven Zhou, Chief Intellectual Property Officer of Yantai Jereh Oilfield Services Group Company Limited (“Jereh”), a company focused on oil and gas services that has recently diversified into new energy. The Jereh were featured on our most recent industry report “Innovation Momentum 2023: The Global Top 100”.
Mr. Zhou discusses Jereh’s patent strategy, the role of patents in protecting the company’s market expansion, and the use of patent analytics to maintain a top patent portfolio and identify and evaluate future technologies. He also explains how Jereh stays ahead of the innovation curve by continuously updating its equipment and understanding the market development and competition. Additionally, Mr. Zhou highlights how the company ensures that its patent strategy fits its overall business strategy and supports business development through risk prevention and control.
A little background about Mr. Zhou: Before joining Jereh, Steven Zhou had over 20 years of experience in large enterprises and global top 500 multinational enterprises. He has served as European IP Director of ZTE, IP Legal Director of TCL Group Corporation, IP Director of TCL Industrial Holdings Corporation, etc. He has rich experience in IP strategic planning, system construction and operation, patent application, license litigation, affairs of trademark, copyright and domain, trade secrets and patent operation, etc.
Q 1: Could you briefly describe Jereh and its mission?
Steven Zhou: Jereh was founded in 1999 and has become a listed company with global operations after 24 years of development. While Jereh continues to deepen its business in the oil and gas field, it started implementing the dual business strategy of “oil and gas” and “new energy” in 2021. In 2022, Jereh New Energy began to produce 100,000 tons of lithium battery anode materials annually and entered massive production and function in early March this year. From the founding, Jereh have been committed to becoming an enterprise respected by people all around the world. Our mission is to focus on customers’ challenges, provide competitive equipment & engineering service solutions and create long-term value for customers.
Q 2: What role do patents play for Jereh?
Steven Zhou: For Jereh, the core purpose of patent work is to protect the company’s market expansion from the perspective of patents. Jereh has established the overall strategy of “patent first before R&D” at an early stage. This strategy reflects patents’ importance, status, and role in Jereh. Specifically, we are currently adopting a defensive patent strategy. On the one hand, we will try our best to strictly control the company’s risks and ensure the safety of the business development. On the other hand, we will build an advantageous patent portfolio in the technical areas where we have a comparative advantage. We will conduct risk prevention and control from three aspects; starting from R&D, we will conduct patent analysis in advance, propose the design around solutions for technologies that may generate risks, and then implement the design around solutions to control risks before the products are put into production and market. At the same time, we pay close attention to sales department and purchasing department, which we mainly focus on the terms of our contracts, especially those involving intellectual property rights. For example, we have special training for the sales department and ask our sales colleagues always to maintain closely communication with the intellectual property department to ensure that the terms involving intellectual property in the sales agreement has been strictly and perfectly reviewed. Through the risk control of the whole chain, Jereh can avoid the risk well. At the same time, through the in-depth and comprehensive patent layout in the technical areas where we have a comparative advantage, we build our own advantageous patent portfolio, and lay a solid foundation for Jereh’s own patent weapon construction.
Q 3: How does Jereh “stay ahead of the innovation curve”?
Steven Zhou: In the history of Jereh, we always insisted on the market as our motivation. Specifically, whether the trading of spare parts from the beginning, the equipment maintenance, and the equipment manufacturing, the business development of Jereh is driven by a deep understanding of customer needs. Therefore, the products developed by Jereh exceed customers’ expectations and maintain a significant competitive advantage in the industry. We are also actively updating each type of equipment according to the industries’ development. We are at the forefront of global technology development, can identify the mainstream of international market development, and follow it closely. This is also due to the Group’s global market layout and deep understanding of the worldwide market. In R&D, we keep asking ourselves many questions, such as (1) whether our customers think our products are good as we do; (2) whether our technology is leading globally; (3) whether our leading products and technologies are sustainable and competitive; (4) whether we can stay in the top position of technological innovation for a long time; (5) can we benchmark world-class enterprises and products, and (6) what kind of technology and products should we use to cope with the current complex market environment. Therefore, we must keep understanding the market development and competition from the perspective of R&D and continuously lead the company’s growth.
Q 4: How do you ensure that your patent strategy fits your overall business strategy?
Steven Zhou: The patent department is a functional department of the company and serves the development of the business. Therefore, the patent work is also based on the company’s business needs. Jereh has a global presence in more than 70 countries, including North America, the Middle East, Russia, Africa, South America, and Asia Pacific. The support for patent work differs from region to region. North America is the region with the highest patent risk in the world, so North America is the region where our business units have supporting demand from the intellectual property department, which can be said that North America is the most important region in the world and been mainly focused on. To providing support to the business development by two aspects, patent risk prevention and control, and patent portfolio building, we can keep the patent strategy consistent with the company’s development strategy.
Q 5: Which role does patent analytics play at Jereh in maintaining and developing its top patent portfolio and identifying and evaluating future technologies?
Steven Zhou: In our work, we also use some patent analysis solutions commonly used in the industry. These solutions are essential for us to understand the industry’s current development direction and our competitors’ patent portfolios through these solutions. We currently have patent search solutions, real-time monitoring solutions for patent litigation and comprehensive IP solutions. These data platforms provide us with a wealth of advice and reports. At the same time, the real-time database and analysis solutions allow us to grasp the information we need promptly and take corresponding actions quickly. These professional solutions provide full support and assistance to enterprises’ patent work and are indispensable tools for in-house patent staff.
Which companies are pioneering the future of science and technology?
Download Innovation Momentum 2023: The Global Top 100 to find out! Using our proprietary patent quality metrics to look at the global patent landscape we list out the Top 100 innovators worldwide. Read the full report to discover which companies are at the forefront of innovation, driving future technologies.