2014 Physics Nobel Prize Winner “Shuji Nakamura” & His Patent Battle

Shuji Nakamura has been awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physics along with Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano for his invention of blue LEDs. Nakamura had explained that electron irradiation improved the p-doping and made use of high-quality, p-doped GaN along with other GaN-based semiconductors in multilayer “heterojunction” structures to create the first high-brightness blue LED in 1993. He invented these GaN-based LEDs while working in the Nichia Corporation, a small company located in Tokushima, Japan. Today, GaN-based LEDs are used in back-illuminated liquid-crystal displays in devices ranging from mobile phones, DVDs to TV screens. In the future, UV-emitting LEDs could be used solely for lighting just as electric bulbs were used in the 20th century. Since blue LEDs were an important invention, Nichia Corp. secured lucrative patents and awarded a bare minimum compensation of less than $200 for his work. Nakamura battled to get additional compensation for the discovery and brought lawsuit against Nichia Corp. in 2001 seeking a share of the royalties from his invention. The Tokyo High Court ruled that Nichia could have earned more than $1.1 billion in profits from blue LEDs since they were first marketed in 1993, and awarded him $180 million in compensation from Nichia.

A Few Patents of Shuji Nakamura   

PatentFiling dateStatusAssigneeInventor(s)
US5578839 A  Nov 17, 1993GrantNichia Chemical Industries, Ltd.Shuji Nakamura, Takashi Mukai, Naruhito Iwasa
US6791103 B2  Aug 27, 2002GrantNichia CorporationShuji Nakamura, Takashi Mukai, Naruhito Iwasa
CA2298491 C  Jul 27, 1998GrantNichia Chemical Industries, Ltd., Shuji Nakamura, Takashi Mukai, Koji Tanizawa,Tomotsugu Mitani, Hiromitsu Marui, Nichia CorporationShuji Nakamura, Takashi Mukai, Koji Tanizawa, Tomotsugu Mitani, Hiromitsu Marui

Some patents hold immense monetary value and the assessment of monetary value of patents is a must for every patent holder – whether a researcher or a corporation. Having realized this, the man behind the blue LEDs “Shuji Nakamura” sued Nichia Corp. He won and still advocates that when an individual invents something as part of R&D for her employer and the invention has immense commercial viability, either the employee should share rights over its patent or should be given “reasonable” compensation in exchange for the rights to the patent. His victory is inspiring and is helping researchers to focus on the value of their intellectual property in ways they have not done in the past. Sagacious IP offers indispensable Patent Monetization support to its clients globally. To request for a quotation please click on the following link, click here.

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