In a recent decision of the Tokyo District Court, the patent for the blue light-emitting diode ("LED") was found to be owned by the employer (Nichia Corporation) of inventor Shuji Nakamura at the time the invention was made, despite the latter's claim that he was insufficiently compensated for the profit brought the company as a result of the invention (over $400 Million USD annually).
The Court will rule in November of this year on the extent of Nakamura's entitlement, if any, to the profits made by Nichia Corporation.
This case is of importance as a test case in Japan where rights of the inventors are traditionally protected to a lesser degree than in the U.S. This case also illustrates the importance for companies of obtaining properly documented assignments and/or releases of inventions by employees and contractors.
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