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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 January, 2004, 11:52 GMT
Record payout for Japan inventor
DVDs have been a big success
A Japanese inventor has won the country's highest patent compensation award after suing his ex-employer, tech-firm Hitachi.

The Tokyo High Court ruled that Seiji Yonezawa had not been paid enough for his work on technology that was a forerunner to DVD.

The court awarded Mr Yonezawa 162m yen ($1.5m; 837,000) for his work on three optical disc technology patents.

Hitachi had originally paid Mr Yonezawa 2.3m yen in compensation.

Digital stardom

Mr Yonezawa's lawyer celebrated the ruling, saying it would inspire children to take an interest in science.

According to local press reports, lawyer Hidetoshi Masunaga said his client was now a millionaire "like football and baseball players".

"This will have a significant impact on grade school children. This ruling changes the Japanese view that becoming a company president is the only successful goal of a career," Mr Masunaga was quoted as saying.

Hitachi was less pleased. The firm said it was considering an appeal and believed its rulebook on compensation was in line with other firms.

Steady pursuit

Mr Yonezawa, aged 65, retired from Hitachi in 1996.

During the mid-1970s, he had developed optical disc technologies that resulted in three patents.

Hitachi paid him 2.3m yen to take over the patents.

Angered by an award he considered unfairly meagre, Mr Yonezawa first took Hitachi to court two years ago and won 34.9m yen in compensation in the Tokyo District Court.

Still dissatisfied, he appealed to the High Court and asked for 250m yen.

The High Court's decision did not go that far, but it has awarded him more than 70 times Hitachi's original payment.

Hitachi, founded as an electrical repair shop in 1910, has become a multi-billion dollar company whose products include computer memory chips and fibre optic transmission systems, including pioneering miniaturised versions.

DVD sales lift News Corp
05 Nov 03  |  Business

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