February 2, 2004 – The Tokyo District Court has ruled that Nichia Corp. must pay 20 billion yen to former employee Shuji Nakamura, now a professor at the University of California-Santa Barbara, based on royalties it owed from using Nakamura’s patented blue LED technology, according to the Japan Economic Newswire.
Nichia commercialized technology to create blue LED in 1993, three years after filing for a patent (the same year Nakamura invented his process), with Nakamura originally receiving 20,000 yen for his efforts. Audit firms claimed the company could gain up to 280 billion yen from the technology in the future. Nichia has appealed the ruling to Tokyo’s High court, and the dispute could end up in Japan’s Supreme Court.
It’s the largest-ever amount in Japan for patent rights, dwarfing the previous record of 163 million yen owed by Hitachi Ltd. for patents relating to optical disks.