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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 11:09 GMT
Victory for campaigning inventor
Office workers in Japan
Japan's salary man inventors want more recognition
A Japanese court has awarded an inventor a payout of 20bn yen ($189m; 104m), smashing the record for patent compensation set 24 hours earlier.

Engineer Shuji Nakamura came up with the blue LED technology used to make indicator lights on electronic devices.

His victory dwarfs the previous record of 162m yen awarded on Thursday to an ex-Hitachi engineer for technology that laid the groundwork for DVDs.

The cases are being seen as victories against Japanese corporate culture.

Salaryman's revolt

Mr Nakamura invented a system known as blue LED (light-emitting diode technology) whilst working at Japanese firm Nichia.

LEDs are used in moving message panels, traffic lights and to show if electronic devices such as PCs, modems and printers are switched on.

The Tokyo District Court ruled that Mr Nakamura was entitled to more than the 20,000 yen that his bosses had originally paid him for the invention. Mr Nakamura won the rights to the patent in an earlier case.

Mr Nakamura, now a professor at the University of California, has campaigned for Japanese firms to give more recognition to the achievements of individual inventors.

"In Japan talking about money bears a bad image, but money is equal to a fair evaluation," said Mr Nakamura.

Nichia said it plans to appeal.

Setting a trend

Mr Nakamura's award tops the one made by the Tokyo High Court to another engineer, Seiji Yonezawa.

He received 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. It is appealing against the court's judgement.

A lawyer for Mr Yonezawa said his client's victory "changes the Japanese view that becoming a company president is the only successful goal of a career".

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