The 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on March 11 is a massive natural disaster and human tragedy, but it could have been much worse. News reports have credited Japan`s strict building codes with saving countless lives. Thanks to Japanese engineering, thousands of buildings and other structures survived the initial earthquake and numerous aftershocks. Japan`s leadership in earthquake resistant technologies is evident in the patent record. Japanese engineers and scientist have filed almost 70 percent of the patent applications related to protecting structures from earthquakes.
The main IPC codes related to earthquake-resistant structures are:
- E04H 9/02 – Buildings .. withstanding earthquakes or sinking of ground
- E02D 27/34 – Foundations for sinking or earthquake territories
In espacenet there are 15,180 patent documents classified in E04H 9/02, 71 percent (10,816) of these are JP documents. About 4,159 patent documents are classified in E02D 27/34, 60 percent (2,479) are JP documents.
Some of the leading patent assignees in this field are Japanese corporations, including Kajima, Oiles, Shimzu, and Nippon Steel.