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Court Rules Company Owns Blue LED Patent

Photonics.com
Sep 2002
TOKYO, Sept. 23 -- A company that employed the inventor of the lucrative blue light-emitting diode (LED) is the rightful owner of its patent, a Tokyo court decided last week.

The Associated Press (AP) reported Thursday that Shuji Nakamura, now a professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sued Nichia Corp. for 2 billion yen ($16 million), saying he was not sufficiently compensated for the profit his invention brought the company. However, the Tokyo District Court confirmed that Nichia is the rightful owner of the patent. The broader ruling on whether he can claim any portion of the profits from the invention will be made on Nov. 19, the AP reported.

Nakamura said he would appeal to the Tokyo High Court, even if the district court rules that he should be compensated. The patent for the blue LED helps make more than 50 billion yen ($407 million) a year for Nichia Corp., the small company in southwestern Japan where Nakamura worked for 20 years. But, besides his paycheck of 10 million yen ($81,000) a year, Nakamura said he got only 20,000 yen, or $160, for each of the dozens of patents on inventions he developed at Nichia, the AP said.

Nakamura's suit has been closely followed because it underscores the issue of where the line on intellectual property rights should be drawn when an inventor clashes with his or her employer, said the AP.
For more information, visit: www.nichia.com



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