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Nichia - Nakamura settle for only $8m

11 Jan 2005

Shuji Nakamura and former employer Nichia finally come to a settlement over the invention of GaN-based blue LEDs.

From Compound Semiconductor magazine.

Blue LED pioneer Shuji Nakamura and his former employer Nichia are both said to be dissatisfied after the Tokyo High Court told the company to pay Nakamura ¥840 million ($8.1 million) to settle the pair’s extended patent dispute.

Although this sum is thought to be the most that a company has ever agreed to pay an inventor in Japan, it is far less than the ¥20 billion figure that Nakamura had originally sued for, and which he was awarded by the Tokyo District Court in January 2004.

A payment of even that magnitude is unlikely to have financially crippled Nichia, which has a huge share of the estimated $4 billion high-brightness LED market and is now gearing up for mass production of GaN-based blue lasers for next-generation DVD applications.

Nichia Corporation had been expecting to make a ¥100 billion profit on sales of ¥220 billion in 2004.

According to a report at Nikkei.net, the High Court decision estimated all Nakamura’s inventions while the researcher was at Nichia to be worth ¥608 million to the company. The extra ¥230 million is compensation for delayed payment.

Nakamura is said to be “totally dissatisfied” with the settlement, while Nichia believes even the revised amount to be excessive.

Now working as a professor at the University of California in Santa Barbara, Nakamura had sued Nichia on the basis that his work was worth 50% of the value of the invention.

The final settlement appears to have valued Nakamura’s contribution to be far less than that.

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