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Nobel winner Nakamura was salaryman who took on bosses

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He is the Hanzawa Naoki of the Japan Science World!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Japanese media effusively welcomed news of the triple win, with newspapers issuing special editions and television stations flashing the news.

Huh? Nakamura sued his Japanese company because they treated him so poorly; they banished him to the U.S.; and, he is now a U.S. citizen and professor at UCSB. While Japan certainly can rightfully take great pride in his accomplishments, the manner in which he was treated in his home country is hardly something to be proud of.

19 ( +30 / -12 )

So, it was revenge that driven him to excel. I hope he serves as a lesson to others. Jcorps are not very friendly with their employees. Many even forces you to work like a slave(Black Gaisha)

7 ( +11 / -4 )

He went to where he is appreciated. Ha went where he could do his science. Says a lot about Japan.

15 ( +19 / -5 )

they banished him to the U.S.;

No they didnt banish him, he left with the cash and now is reaping the rewards of his labors!

6 ( +12 / -6 )

This guy is awesome! He's got his own mythos building, he's becoming a Chuck Norris of the Nobel world!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

He would never get another Job in Japan, but they claim his achievements while ignoring his biggest success, standing up for himself.

22 ( +25 / -4 )

Nippon no kokoro dakara ne. He shows Japanese spirit, so Japan is proud!

-9 ( +4 / -13 )

I remember this guys' win back in 2004, I didn't realize it was the same guy. Good on him for going after his company for being so cheap!

they banished him to the U.S.

Japanese companies do not have the power to banish people.

He would never get another Job in Japan

With the money from the lawsuit, he doesn't need to! The guy is well off now.

10 ( +10 / -1 )

Nakamura sued his Japanese company because they treated him so poorly

They backed him up, paid the bills and his salary for years when his research was not producing anything and many thought the GaN LED was going nowhere. His contract no doubt spelled out that the patent for any inventions was the property of the company - common practice in Japan, not unreasonable considering they were the ones paying for everything. If he objected to that maybe he should have gone independent before he spent so much of Nichia's money on his project. Granted the ¥20,000 bonus was perhaps a bit stingy, but Nakamura showed his own true colours when he upped and offed to the US - following the dosh, nothing else.

-22 ( +11 / -33 )

Cleo - your description of the reality of the situation is superficial in the least.

Nakamura's struggles are well documented through his own book and the trials.

Hierarchial japan had no time for an essentially unknown man(technologist not a scientist), from an unknown town, who graduated from an unknown university and worked in an unknown company. And the hierarchial structures were alive and well in his unknown company as well.

Defiance, resilience and unswerving diligence to his task created the blue led.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

In an interview with Nakamura I saw yesterday he said that it is basically reasonable that a patent would belong to the company and that salarymen should go independent if wanting to reap the rewards of their inventions. And that that is what happens in the USA. But that in Japan it is virtually impossible because of the lack of availability of venture capital.

14 ( +14 / -0 )

Patents should belong to the company but the inventor should be compensated accordingly. I guess the short sightedness of a japanese company has cost them dear. Cleo:He didn't show his true colors. He was being treated unfairly by his company and went to another company where he was appreciated. Doctors,nurses,engineers do that. Not only for money but also for job satisfaction and a sense of being valued and maybe something more important, and that is self worth/ esteem.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Nakamura's struggles are well documented through his own book

Nothing like going for unbiased opinion.....:-)

Hierarchial japan had no time for an essentially unknown man......

From the article - He once said students looked down on him when he was studying in the United States-where he had been sent by the company-as he did not have a PhD. "My desire to get back at them led to the invention of the (blue) LED,"

Sounds to me more like a man with a drive to be recognised. Not in itself a bad thing - it obviously produces results - but not a reason to to cast aspersions at either 'hierarchical Japan' or uppity students in the US, or the company that paid for his initial research.

-15 ( +5 / -20 )

Beautiful payday for a sweetly served payback. I hope those who bullied, ignored and ridiculed this man, and anyone who does it to others, find themselves smarting, churning and going ballistic red very day of THEIR miserable petite lives. Well done for getting just reward for YOUR invention, determination and hard nosed will to succeed.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

Never heard of Professor Nakamura before today, but based on this article I highly respect him. The fact he is still working is proof money wasn't his only motivation, and it is good that he is passing his knowledge on to the next generation. I am inclined to say 'Japan's loss is America's gain' but in reality I hope the best for Japan so lets see some other great minds find inspiration from him.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

There are so many Japanese like him. The other day, there was a show on TV about a Japanese ophthalmologist who went to the US established a research company, become fairly successful. At the end of the show, he said he could never do it in Japan, because his Japanese colleagues, universities, companies were all against him, telling him that he's on a wild goose chase, etc.

Shogun mentality of Japanese companies will not disappear anytime soon.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

I don't know about most of you, but I had to sign a paper when I joined my (non-Japanese) company stating that any work related invention I make why under employ of the company is property of the company. And I think our innovation bonus is something like 10-man yen. It's the same in all companies in my industry as far as I know.

What Nakamura-san went through at his company here isn't unusual at all, globally.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

You want to know the sad thing..... Many Japanese companies are trying to change this ways (slowly as most things in Japan move for these type of things though).

While Japan is trying to change, there are some foreign people and companies that idolize that Japan society of 30-40 years ago (when almost every worker was tied to the work not to the family). These non-japanese people and companies are some times even more "jcompany-ish" that the jcompanies.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

@cleo Nakamura showed his own true colours when he upped and offed to the US - following the dosh, nothing else.

@Abe234 He was being treated unfairly by his company and went to another company where he was appreciated.

He didn't go to another company. Many universities in the US wanted him but he was won by University of California at Santa Barbara, where he has been provided the facilities, staff, funding, and freedom to continue the pursuit of groundbreaking, important work.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

To counter the detraction of Professor Nakamura: despite his brilliant work, his company denied him promotion commensurate with his achievements.

For a long time they prevented him publishing scientific reports on his work, denying him the recognition he richly deserved.

They wanted him to stop working on the Blue LEDs, and would have lost out on their commercial development if it were not for Professor Nakamura's resolve.

They paid him a pittance for his achievement.

They paid him a pittance for a wage.

He rightly rebelled against the unthinking and ungrateful attitude of his company.

Sadly, the vast majority of Japanese workers do not have the opportunity to act in a similar manner. I do hope that Professor Nakamura's example can produce a grass-roots movement against the abuses of workers and society by Japanese bosses.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It wasn't "revenge", titanium, it was anger towards a system that stifles creativity and individuality and takes all credit for others' work without proper rewards. There's no motivation in, "sacrifice everything for the company and we'll reap the rewards", is tired, old, and unfair. He left and went to where his ideas are appreciated and rewarded. Now, suddenly, he's "Japanese" again.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

If I had a company that employed a worker who invented something that would increase my profits into the Billions...hello new partner. Win a Nobel prize. Change the world. And he was given ¥20,000. What? Even the eventual payout is nothing compared to on going profits. Subservience is no longer a viable option. Pay for the talent that makes you money.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

If he had remained as a Japanese, PM Abe could have given him a very important role to change Japan. That would have been a very rewarding job for him too if he could revolutionize Japan. Japan needed him more than USA.

-15 ( +2 / -17 )

Knew of a US company that made $50M USD selling patent licenses for an innovation but only paid the employees that developed it $1000 USD bonuses and a congratulatory lunch. Plus their salaries for duration of project, during which they worked on several other projects as well. Yes they had Non-Disclosure Agreements and employment contracts assigning all inventions to employer.

Executives are in charge and they will scoop off as much of the cream as they can for themselves.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

He got 844mio yen from this company and he still has nothing better to do than thinking every day how can he invent other stuff. I wonder what fears drive him to do it?

Have you also wondered?

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

When Nakamura left Nichia he compared is earnings while he worked there, decades, to his wife's salary who worked as a grammar school teacher. She made more money over the years than he did despite the fact it was his invention that turned Nichia into a multi-billion dollar operation. The company ordered projects that Nakamura completed failed while he worked on the blue LED project on his own. If Nichia would have treated Nakamura better he would still be working there and the company could share in the glory of the nobel prize. Because they wanted to treat him like every other employee rather than the genius he is they won a small battle but lost their most valuable asset. Nakamura. Stupid but for those us who live here understandable. Nakamura tears a new one for corporate culture in Japan but he also goes after the education system which he says is outdated and cruel. He says that Japanese students should study what they want rather than be hammered into corporate clones.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

just goes to show that creativity is something to be controlled in Japan, where in other countries it is nurtured and rewarded.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Jersey and mennonite and others - what exactly did Japan do to him? Provided him with most of his education, no? Provided a legal system through which Nakamura received maybe the biggest bonus any salaryman has ever received? If you feel he was wronged on the blue led blame Nichia, not Japan. Do you not understand the difference?

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Good on him for what he did.

But how many of you who admire him are willing to do the same? Be innovative, put in lots of hard work and take gambles?

Do you have what it takes or are you all talk? So many complain about their life here, yet worship this guy.

It's too sad to be funny.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Good - stick it to them!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@tinawatanabe

If he had remained as a Japanese, PM Abe could have given him a very important role to change Japan. That would have been a very rewarding job for him too if he could revolutionize Japan. Japan needed him more than USA.

Boy, what an honor. That would be like being named the captain of a sinking ship as it goes down.

Japan needed him more than USA. Really? How do you quantify that? Weren't you just saying the Japanese economy was humming right along? If so, it would seem that Japan didn't really need him so badly.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Cleo - I appreciate your comments - but I believe you haven't read through much of the background info re Nakamura.

Always 2 sides(or more) to every story, but in this case I'll side mostly with Nakamura. The other side(s) have a handful of points to be respected, against Nakamura's bucket loads.

It's not new news. It's been out there for yonks. Also interesting is when he won the Millenium Technology Prize (the equivalent of the Nobel for technology) in 2006 he was not exactly heralded in Japan.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Provided a legal system through which Nakamura received maybe the biggest bonus any salaryman has ever received?

Bonus? It's called a judgement by the court. If the company had it their way he would have gotten nothing more than he got in the first place. He was generous to let them off as lightly as he did.

He let 1.2 BILLION yen go by, that is probably a million times more than he was EVER paid. They got off EASY.

If he had remained as a Japanese, PM Abe could have given him a very important role to change Japan. That would have been a very rewarding job for him too if he could revolutionize Japan. Japan needed him more than USA.

By the way he is still Japanese, just not a citizen of Japan anymore. And there is NO job that Abe could have given him that would have been rewarding enough either.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

browny1, I remember the media hype when the blue LEDs first came out, as well as the 'but the bonus wasn't enough' row. As you say, there are two sides to every story, and the only side we're being given is 'Nakamura was treated so bad by the company from hell'. He was treated according to the contract he'd agreed to when he joined the company.

When Nakamura left Nichia he compared is earnings while he worked there, decades, to his wife's salary who worked as a grammar school teacher.

Grammar school teachers shouldn't be paid well? And Japan has grammar schools?? I thought they were a feature of the UK education system, killed off by the comprehensives?

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

Nakamura, currently a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, never lived in Tokyo and was not from an elite university or a giant well-known firm.

He once said students looked down on him when he was studying in the United States—where he had been sent by the company—as he did not have a PhD.

That is the crux of the problem in Japan. If you are not from Tokyo or some "big named" school, you are a nobody. I am sure that in his peer group, some who did come from the right places are still at the same level, progressing slowly until they reach their rightful places (as they believe) but just putting in the time and showing up.

When on considers that UCSB is not a really "big time" school but has a Nobel winner (I know he didn't do the work there, but they get to claim the credit), is probably unheard of in Japan. Many of the so called smaller places and schools have produced some of the biggest names, and they were not hampered by the mentality sometimes seen in Japan in regards of "where you come from."

6 ( +6 / -0 )

He shows Japanese spirit, so Japan is proud! standing up to authority, and even giving up his Japanese nationality for a country that will show him the respect that he deserves.. he may be Japanese on the outside but hes very different on the inside. Japanese are just as intelligent as any other nationality, sadly many Japanese need to leave Japan to develop there full potential.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Yubaru,

Actually it was Y19.2 billion he let his kechi ex employer keep!

Japanese really need to start seeing whats what as they are getting treated like dirt on so many levels

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Yubaru - I used the word "bonus" because he was suing nichia for 20billion compared to his 20k bonus. I should have put it in quotes, thanks for the quibble.

Hate to tell you this, but pretty much no country that respects contracts or the rule of law would see an employee walk away with an 8million dollar payout, so he was arguably well served by the courts. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/who-owns-patent-rights-employer-inventor.html

So you think 1.2 billion is a "million times more than he was EVER paid"?? In other words you think he only made 1,200 yen - about 11 dollars - during his career at nichia? That's pretty funny.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

the company took a risk on nakamura. they hired him and gave him lifetime employment and the resources to do research without any guarantees that he would create anything. he must have signed an employment contract. if the employment contract said he was entitled to more, i'm sure the company would have honored their bargain. suing the company is how he honored his. and actually he didn't even create the blue LED, he just commercialized it. the other 2 guys were the real inventors. nakamura is just a greedy scab.

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

fds,

and actually he didn't even create the blue LED, he just commercialized it. the other 2 guys were the real inventors. nakamura is just a greedy scab.

"Just commercialized it"? Nakamura changed the properties of the Galium Arsenide Blue LED, by adding Indium Arsenide and developing a process to make it mass-produceable.

Without Prof Nakamura the Blue LED would just be a laboratory curiosity.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

By the way he is still Japanese, just not a citizen of Japan anymore. actually hes Asian, American citizen not a Japanese citizen anymore. he will always be Asian, Japanese is not a race but a nationality as many people seem to think.

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Alphaape "When on considers that UCSB is not a really "big time" school but has a Nobel winner (I know he didn't do the work there, but they get to claim the credit), is probably unheard of in Japan"

Yes, UCSB is no Harvard, and was long considered a "party school". Yet they have been able to attract someone like Nakamura. And in fact there are six Nobel Laureates on the faculty, including Nakamura, in Chemistry, Physics, and Economics. The University's Points of Pride page is an interesting read. It will be interesting to see what else Nakamura might bring into the world.

Speaking of his fellow winners, I especially liked how Amasaki repeatedly stressed that all these decades he has just kept on doing what he wanted to do.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

cleo is spot on here. I agree 100%

They backed him up, paid the bills and his salary for years when his research was not producing anything and many thought the GaN LED was going nowhere. His contract no doubt spelled out that the patent for any inventions was the property of the company - common practice in Japan, not unreasonable considering they were the ones paying for everything. If he objected to that maybe he should have gone independent before he spent so much of Nichia's money - on his project. Granted the ¥20,000 bonus was perhaps a bit stingy, but Nakamura showed his own true colours when - he upped and offed to the US - following the dosh, nothing else. When I saw the interviews, he seemed to be a bitter person who now seems to be enjoying the recognition that he craved for so much during his earlier career.Contrast with the 2 others who received the prize - for me, they are true heroes & remained humble throughout. Well done and I hope it inspires the current & future generations.
-6 ( +2 / -8 )

The nail that got hammered... on champagne. Bravo!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

By the way he is still Japanese, just not a citizen of Japan anymore.

That sentence doesn't make any sense!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I realized a very sad thing: Although his story is very well-known in Japan, most Japanese still do not think of Shuji Nakamura as a hero.

For Japan's future sake, this has to change. The man has as much if not more balls and better smarts than Horimon and Horimon was well celebrated, for a while.

We need to celebrate this man!

4 ( +5 / -1 )

AManInJapan

cleo is spot on here. I agree 100% - They backed him up, paid the bills and his salary for years when his research was not producing anything and many - thought the GaN LED was going nowhere.

What rubbish, even without the GaAs LED Nakamura was carrying the company. And what did he get for it? A salary lower than an school teacher's, a 'bonus' that many of us could have paid him, and most importantly - others taking credit for his work.

As is the case with many of Japan's woes, the true villains of Japan are the bosses: life-destroying schools, needless overtime, enforced work socialization, devotion to job and not your kids (look at what that did in Kobe recently!) - all to satisfy their needs for 'worker samurai'.

Nakamura is an Everyman hero. Most of his former bosses are villains.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

I am surprised by your remarks Cleo. As long as you have been in Japan it seems you are losing your western "freedom" gene. You know as well as I know that you don't (especially more so when he came out of school) have a whole lot of choice with employment contracts in Japan. There is very little negotiation. If it wasn't him it would be some other 22/23 year old just out of school to fill the ranks. They would not fire anyone either...just move them around. BUT...this time they got someone who knew he was worth more than the system teaches here. By bucking that system it gives other young creative minds hope. Lifetime stability is fine, but choice is another matter. You were not raised on this system but you seem to have come to embrace it. What about your progeny? For all of you with kids there is much to think about. Risk has rewards...not always but you have to be in it to win it! Or will you teach your kids to be "hammered down"?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

it seems you are losing your western "freedom" gene

There is no such thing as a freedom gene, western or otherwise.

you don't (especially more so when he came out of school) have a whole lot of choice with employment contracts in Japan. There is very little negotiation

But he wasn't a kid fresh out of school: he worked in the company for some 20 years and was presumably quite happy to put up with the system for that time. If he'd made his choice earlier, bucked the system earlier, sold himself for what he thought he was worth earlier, taken the risk, I'd agree with all the 'freedom fighter hero' praise being heaped on him now. But he didn't. He let the company finance his research and only when he had something to 'sell' - his blue LED - did he decide it was safe to choose 'freedom'.

Risk has rewards...

He didn't take any risks.

You were not raised on this system but you seem to have come to embrace it.

I was raised to believe that a contract to which you put your name means something.

will you teach your kids to be "hammered down"?

I have taught them to read the small print before they sign anything.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

I read an interview in Japanese with him on the Nikkei site. They asked why he took US citizenship. He replied that university researchers can only get clearance to work on military projects if they are US citizens. But I found it odd that in the very next question they asked "As a Japanese, how does it feel to win the Nobel?" Since the reporter should know that Japan doesn't allow adults to have dual citizenship and he just explained he has US citizenship, they should have known that he didn't win it as a Japanese citizen, but as an American citizen.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

he didn't win it as a Japanese citizen, but as an American citizen.

For work he did as a Japanese citizen.

Someone mentioned that this might help make it easier for Japan to introduce dual nationality, so that when people like Nakamura win a prestigious prize they can still rejoice that 'a Japanese won it'.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

We can all learn from him. Great for him. He doesn't need people who treated him badly. Proud to be American and be accepted by them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I was having a chat with my adult students about this yesterday. One of them is married to a man from Tokushima, who used to work for that very company. If his words are anything to go by, the esteemed prof. made himself extremely unpopular while he was doing his research there, and the company bent over backwards to accomodate him and his demands. I won't go into detail, because it seems pointless now that everything is done and dusted. But just remember that there are two sides to every story, and we are only getting one of them. I for one do not believe the David and Goliath version at all, not after hearing the things I've heard.

Aside of that: well done, and thank you for the beautiful lights!

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"when he was studying in the United States—where he had been sent by the company"

So, the company sent him to the United States to study, all expenses paid? Nice!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Tessa - I agree, as I posted earlier - there are always 2 or more sides. You've heard 1 side from a person and I actually have heard a side also from a person who lived and worked in Annan town. Who to believe.

My story was Nakamura was maybe a head strong person who didn't like to hear no for an answer. This caused consternation at times esp when you're the younger junior element of the process. He had the support of some but maybe lost that after treading on toes. So he went his own way - and yes he was using Nichia funds & facilities in doing so. So it seems his disrespectful manner indirectly contributed to his success. Right or Wrong!!!

In all of this though, one thing really stuck in my craw years ago when the first hearings and trial was on. When Nakamura first claimed a % or bonus was due to him, Nichia had it's accounting / legal bods draw up reams of "evidence" which stated that actually the led has earnt us no money at all, and that this research has cost untold millions and we are in the red over it. This was publicly announced and reported repeatedly.

It seemed like such a slimy cop out years ago and still does now. An attempt to bully and discredit the "outlaw". They didn't need to go that way but they did and lost huge credibility. A joke really.

And as I and others see it, Nakamura's gripe was not just the money, but the institutionalized hypocrisy and discrimatory practices played out by the educational and corporate world. They exist everywhere, but going against the grain here, in Japan , will soon have you planed over.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@Tessa I for one do not believe the David and Goliath version at all, not after hearing the things I've heard. and your getting your information from an employee of the same company. may be some vested interests there dont you think? you dont get ahead in this world or reach the pinnacle of your profession by being all round nice guy/gal. Mr Nakamura could be the biggest Ahole there is, that doesnt diminish what hes achieved

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Mr Nakamura could be the biggest Ahole there is, that doesnt diminish what hes achieved.

He has achieved a lot, it can't be denied. But on whose backs, and whose money?

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

even if Mr Nakamura went to the US at a young age and was totally brought up as a US citizen, Japanese would still claim him. as i said before being Japanese or any other nationality is something thats learnt through culture, its not something thats in your blood or DNA when your conceived.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Tessa

Your point? He was a RESEARCHER, there is never a guaranteed breakthrough, but paying the man a bonus of $200 is downright trashy.

As for your earlier post, either put the story out there or dont. Saying, ゛I have a story about that trashbag Nakamura, but I cant tell you゛ is tactless. If you cannot talk in detail, dont bring it up.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Japan needed him more than USA. Really? How do you quantify that? Weren't you just saying the Japanese economy was humming right along? If so, it would seem that Japan didn't really need him so badly.

SaitamaRefugee, US has many talents like him and more advanced system, while Japan needs changes as he complains. He could have changed Japan. I'm talking about Japan's society, not economy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@tinawatanabe

Courageous of you to FINALLY admit it. But, even you must admit the Japanese economy is in poor condition.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

You have to admit, 20,000 yen is really an insult as a bonus.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"You have to admit, 20,000 yen is really an insult as a bonus."

It's like this: You're worth whatever someone is willing to pay you. If you don't like how much you're getting paid, go somewhere else or start your own business.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I gotta sue my company ! Just a couple of 100 million yen will do ! LOL

1 ( +1 / -0 )

go somewhere else or start your own business

Or sue the boss and make a bundle. Or not. I wonder how many similar cases failed?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the esteemed prof. made himself extremely unpopular while he was doing his research there, and the company bent over backwards to accomodate him and his demands

Would the blue LED have been invented if he had been meek and obedient?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Would the blue LED have been invented if he had been meek and obedient?

And would it have been invented if he had not had access to all that money (it was a lot, believe me) and resources, time and patience on the part of his employers?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@cleo

That fact that Nakamura won his case seems to be validation from the Japanese "establishment" that Nakamura was in principle justified. I believe this justification stems from a recognition that Japan needs to encourage work like Nakamura's for the sake of the national good.

I think if you look carefully you will see that the tiny bonus and lack of promotion was only a symptom of the enmity which Nakamura's superiors felt about Nakamura's presumption in being creative and showing them up. His superiors want to give him a jigsaw puzzle and have him put it together and give it back to them, but instead he creates a completely unrelated masterpiece to international acclaim and they are furious at him for showing them up, even if it makes them rich.

This is not just a Japan thing, cleo, it's a MAN thing!

Just look at what happened to Edwin H. Armstrong, inventor of FM radio. You know that FM radio which plays music so much better than AM radio. Armstrong got at least as angry as Nakamura, but Armstrong lost his battle against his former employers David Sarnoff and RCA as they managed through the FCC to delay FM radio for 25 years until the late 60's, costing US citizens 25 years of good stereo music. In 1954 Armstrong removed the air conditioner from the window of his 13th floor New York city apartment, and jumped out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

CraigHicks - I'm not disputing that the 'bonus' was stingy - in fact I've said as much. The fact that Nakamura won his case - plus the fact that on appeal the amount was drastically reduced - are both probably good things in helping promote creativity in Japanese companies in the future. What I am disputing is the claims made here that the company was totally at fault, they treated him badly, he was downtrodden, a hero stickin' it to da man, etc.

In an interview with the Japan society of Applied Physics, Nakamura himself stated that the problem was with Japanese working practices in general, not with Nichia in particular. The first reason he gives for leaving is the fact that the development had been completed and I had fulfilled my role within the company. So why all the venom for Nichia's bosses?

For twenty years he was content to use their facilities and let them finance his research without ever thinking of quitting. It can't have been such a horrible place to work, then, can it?

https://www.jsap.or.jp/jsapi/Pdf/Number02/Interview.pdf

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

It takes strike if genius to invent something of a tangible value. Now, I have found over the years, that busier I get the less intuition come out of my head. To the contrary, the freer my head become the more hunches I tend to have. Speaking of Japan, people are routinely overworked and pushed to the breaking limit which is not an ideal condition to foster creativity. What Japan have been traditionally good at is incremental improvement and manufacturing of already existing technology.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@cleo ... What I am disputing is the claims made here that the company was totally at fault, they treated him badly, he was downtrodden, a hero stickin' it to da man, etc.

The theatrical words are yours. But it would seem that Nakamura's treatment amounted to being punished for doing something good and this played one part in Nakamura's court victory, the other part being the incredible importance of his invention. Not simply a matter of bonus size.

For twenty years he was content to use their facilities and let them finance his research without ever thinking of quitting. It can't have been such a horrible place to work, then, can it?

The courts decision indicates that the company was deserving of the overwhelming majority of profits from the invention. By your use of the word "content" and other words I assume you mean that Nakamura displayed an unwarranted sense of entitlement and his claim was opportunist. The courts decision does not agree with you.

Cooperation and competition, reward and criticism, are all important parts of a successful workplace. The most productive workplace is not one where workers feel simply "content", but somehow feel compelled to struggle for achievement. Obviously Nakamura felt so compelled - how much of that drive came by deliberate management design and how much came from Nakamura's own inner demon - it makes for compelling drama anyway :)

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When Nakamura left Nichia he compared is earnings while he worked there, decades, to his wife's salary who worked as a grammar school teacher.

I'm not sure if they're talking in today's money, 1990's money or 2005 money, but according to this case study -http://www.ibscdc.org/Case_Studies/Innovation%20and%20New%20Product%20Development/IPD0021.htm - He was paid an annual salary of $100,000. That is not a pittance。The average annual salary of an elementary school teacher (Mrs. Nakamura was not a grammar school teacher) in his/her 40s is under 7 million yen.

By your use of the word "content" and other words I assume you mean that Nakamura displayed an unwarranted sense of entitlement and his claim was opportunist.

You assume wrongly. By 'content' I mean that for twenty years he worked for the company, in his own words, 'without ever thinking of quitting'. For twenty years he did not feel that he was being 'punished' or treated badly.

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In the company's defense, they have to fund all the unsuccessful projects from the successful ones. This appears to be basic research, no guaranteed percentage of profitability, so maybe the company has many unsuccessful projects, like in the pharmaceutical industry. Maybe that was part of the reasoning behind the reduction on settlement.

If it's similar to USA, though, that doesn't stop them from giving large payouts to execs, and then crying poor when it comes to trickling down the profits. Even cheating lower management out of bonuses while giving themselves big payouts. Lower management always (or almost always) gets paid better than even star performers doing the work, but execs treat them the same as they treat the worker bees.

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If he had remained as a Japanese, PM Abe could have given him a very important role to change Japan. That would have been a very rewarding job for him too if he could revolutionize Japan. Japan needed him more than USA.

If he had remained a Japanese he would still be commuting from his 2LDK into his crappy job in a crappy company day in day out, working crazy hours, getting bonuses of $200 and PM Abe would never have heard of him.

Nippon no kokoro dakara ne. He shows Japanese spirit, so Japan is proud!

Oh please! He gave the giant two-fingered salute to his country because they treated him like pants - the exact OPPOSITE of the Japanese spirit! He has gaikoku no kororo - and thats exactly why he is where he is now. And absolutely good luck to him. Japans loss is Americas gain. Maybe next time they wont be so myopic when the next Nakamura comes along. Although I somehow doubt it....

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If he had remained a Japanese he would still be commuting from his 2LDK into his crappy job in a crappy company day in day out, working crazy hours, getting bonuses of $200

If the best he could manage in Tokushima on a salary of $100,000 (what he describes as "the standard income for the middle-management level in a large Japanese corporation") plus a working wife on a teacher's salary was a 2LDK, there is something very wrong with his finance skills.

He had access to resources for his research in that 'crappy' company, which did not fire or even discipline him even after he started openly defying his bosses, continuing research he'd been told to stop and refusing to do the work he was asked to do. He chose that 'crappy' company in preference to the giant Kyocera because of the extra freedom it offered him.

The 'bonuses of $200' were token payments for the patents he produced and signed over to the company - as per his employment contract - separate from and additional to the regular twice-yearly bonuses that went to make up his rather generous annual salary. People focus on the LED patent for which Nichia certainly could and should have shown a bit more flexibility, but prior to that he had received payment for hundreds of patents that were never used and produced not a yen of profit.

And according to the interview he gave to JSAP, he is now (speaking before the Nobel glory-train) "very busy - maybe busier than I was before". Looks like he hasn't gotten away from the crazy hours, and it doesn't bother him.

And, he says, when he is too old to work he wants to return to Japan.

http://www.japaninc.com/article.php?articleID=53

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Maria"Nippon no kokoro dakara ne. He shows Japanese spirit, so Japan is proud!"

Oh please! He gave the giant two-fingered salute to his country because they treated him like pants - the exact OPPOSITE of the Japanese spirit! He has gaikoku no kororo - and thats exactly why he is where he is now. And absolutely good luck to him. Japans loss is Americas gain. Maybe next time they wont be so myopic when the next Nakamura comes along. Although I somehow doubt it....

NathalieB, I think Maria is being sarcastic.

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Wow Cleo! Way to twist everything around to suit your own agenda!

Crappy - yes, crappy - long hours for rubbish pay in restricted, frustrated conditions in relation to where he is now. In his own words - his wife earned as much as he did over the period of 20 years and he himself wonders what he did with those 20 years he was there. He didnt earn that $100k the whole 20 years. Notice other researchers in the US called him "Slave Nakamura" for his long hours and low pay? Face it - he wasnt being paid the industry standard. Now yes, hes working long hours doing what he loves for people that appreciate and reward his efforts. Which would you rather choose?

Read the rest of the article - the disillusionment with Japanese education, society and the corporate system is palpable.

He had access to resources for his research in that 'crappy' company, which did not fire or even discipline him even after he started openly defying his bosses, continuing research he'd been told to stop and refusing to do the work he was asked to do. He chose that 'crappy' company in preference to the giant Kyocera because of the extra freedom it offered him.

They tried to block access to those resources every step of the way, even bringing in a rival researcher to "spy" on him, and the only reason he managed to acieve what he did ultimately was because he ignored them. Yes - crappy - read the part where he has to get approval to buy a pencil but the company didnt give a monkeys about safety measures in the lab for their employees. The only reason they didnt fire him was because back then jobs were for life. Corporate Japan doesnt even have THAT safety net any more. They work just as hard as they always did WITHOUT the safety net - Ive known people fired left right and center in Tokyo due to cutbacks and cost cutting measures. But in any case, it sounds like they would have done him a favor if they HAD fired him.

He didnt choose the company for the extra freedom - it clearly says in the text he chose it because of family reasons for staying within the local area. With hindsight the extra freedom was a by product of that choice.

The 'bonuses of $200' were token payments for the patents he produced and signed over to the company - as per his employment contract - separate from and additional to the regular twice-yearly bonuses that went to make up his rather generous annual salary. People focus on the LED patent for which Nichia certainly could and should have shown a bit more flexibility, but prior to that he had received payment for hundreds of patents that were never used and produced not a yen of profit.

Hundreds of patents they had made him produce under their direction that failed. The one innovation he conducted without their direction succeeded. You think a salary of $100k is generous for a man so talented and who has been at the company 20 years? We have a different perspective on that, definitely. I was earning that when I was 28 and had been in my company 2 years.

And according to the interview he gave to JSAP, he is now (speaking before the Nobel glory-train) "very busy - maybe busier than I was before". Looks like he hasn't gotten away from the crazy hours, and it doesn't bother him.

And if you read the article, very happy, happier than he ever was before. Take the whole thing in context - doing what you love under the restrictions and direction of morons who dont understand what you are doing, or just doing what you love for people who appreciate it. I would work all the hours I could under those conditions and love it.

And, he says, when he is too old to work he wants to return to Japan.

Yes - the key being "when he is too old to work" - this really doesnt say anything good at all about Japan does it, other than its fine scenery? If I was Japan I would be mortally embarrassed by this statement. But theyll never get it so theres no point even going there.

Whichever way you cut it, Japan has lost a Golden Goose - another one - due to its own myopic and insular ways. You can rail against it and defend it as much as you like, but ultimately its a fact.

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@cleo ... He had access to resources for his research in that 'crappy' company, which did not fire or even discipline him even after he started openly defying his bosses, continuing research he'd been told to stop and refusing to do the work he was asked to do.

Good point! If he victimized his company like that and his bosses didn't fire him, his bosses have lost my respect. I wonder, maybe his bosses just preferred a relationship defined by criticizing his initiative? They took a gamble that he would fail (seemed like a safe bet) and that they would be rewarding with gloating rights. If they really believed he would fail they should have fired him instead spending company resources on gratuitous gloating rights to massage their own egos by looking down on Nakamura pursuing his dream.

In the end they lost the bet and have to pay the price - ego deflation instead of ego inflation. But since the company did provide him with physical resources, they have been rewarded with huge profits.

The result seems fair to me: Nichia gets the financial reward, Nakamura gets the glory reward, (and a reasonable amount of cash).

As far as I can see, cleo, your complaint is just that Nichia is not getting the glory. It is because on a human relationship level they did not support him - proven by your own quote - they got stuck holding the short sell on Nakamura's glory just when it took an upturn.

Poop or get off the pot - if they didn't want to support him then fire him, if they did support him then make clear they were behind him.

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Way to twist everything around to suit your own agenda!

I don't have an 'agenda'.

In his own words - his wife earned as much as he did over the period of 20 years ... Face it - he wasnt being paid the industry standard

in his own words, he was getting "the standard income for the middle-management level in a large Japanese corporation".

the only reason he managed to acieve what he did ultimately was because he ignored them

If he wanted to ignore the people paying his salary, he had the option to quit and go independent, start his own research company. He didn't do that. Why? Because he wanted Nichia's money and resources, he didn't want the risk of financing himself and maybe failing drastically at something everyone said would likely fail.

You think a salary of $100k is generous for a man so talented and who has been at the company 20 years?

What I think is irrelevant. He was happy enough with it for most of those 20 years.

I wonder, maybe his bosses just preferred a relationship defined by criticizing his initiative?

He was under the wing of Nichia's founder, Nobuo Ogawa, who more or less gave him free rein to produce all those useless patents. When Eiji Ogawa took over the company he adopted a more hands-on approach and that is when Nakamura's relationship with management fell apart. It's ridiculous to suggest any company is run by bosses intent on criticising the workers for the sake of criticising; their job is to ensure that the company makes money, and at the time Nakamura was being told - and refusing - to change his line of research, his work was not and had not been making money. I imagine the reason he wasn't shunted off to a desk in a dark corner and asked to fold paperclips is that Nobuo Ogawa still had some influence (though I admit I'm speculating here). If corporate Japan was really as awful, vindictive and myopic as some would have us believe, we would not be reading about Nakamura's famous blue LEDs.

your complaint is just that Nichia is not getting the glory

No, my complaint is that Nichia is getting a lot of unwarranted flak for normal business practices and Nakamura is getting a lot of unwarranted glory for denigrating his former employers. Poop or get off the pot works both ways; if he didn't want to toe the company line, then go independent, if he did make use of their resources then credit them with that.

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I imagine the reason he wasn't shunted off to a desk in a dark corner and asked to fold paperclips is that Nobuo Ogawa still had some influence (though I admit I'm speculating here).

Actually, after I posted last something like you suggest occurred to me as well, somebody on the board perhaps. Once the president got the message and realized he didn't have the mandate to fire Nakamura, the president could have called Nakamura back into his office and said something like, "You're a good employee and I want you to do your best on this project. Please understand at some future time we may have to cut your project, but for now, ganbatte kudasai", and then made sure Nakamura's colleagues knew that Nakamura had the presidents 100% support, for the time being anyway.

Or maybe that's what the president did, and Nakamura just isn't telling us the truth - is that what you think?

I imagine the reason he wasn't shunted off to a desk in a dark corner and asked to fold paperclips

I think you are off the mark here, if you are saying that they couldn't have fired him. They would have trouble firing an employee if he did what he was told to do, but was not super competent (e.g., not good at folding paperclips). They wouldn't have trouble firing an employee who directly refuses to obey orders because he wants to work on something else (like folding paperclips, or shoot for a Nobel, or whatever). Here are some case examples for dismissal in Japan:

(i) The employee remarkably lacks the ability or efficiency required for performing the assigned job;

(ii) The employee is remarkably neglectful of the job and has a very poor service record;

(iii) The employee is incapable of working due to physical or mental disability; or

(iv) The employee has an adverse effect on the performance of the duties of other Employees or the Company.

At least one of those four would have applied in Nakamura's case.

Finally, you are correct that there are two sides to every coin. I am sure those folks are in normal circumstances excellent managers, with normal human weaknesses, who had to deal with a social work situation for which they simply were not prepared. Certainly Nakamura may have deliberately and blatantly strutted his peacock feathers as he gradually became aware that he really was holding a royal flush in his hand, just to egg them on and bring out their worst side. Just to increase his heroism image. Just to make his book sell better. Just to extract more revenge later. (But also because he was on a legitimate personal mission). If so it would mean that Nakamura is an excellent researcher, with normal human weaknesses.

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Nathalieb - your summary covers the case well.

Cleo - you raise the question often of why Nichia is getting flak. Well, as I posted earlier, their credibiility took a huge dive for me years ago when they trotted out the "Woe is us" claim that the LED development had reapt no windfall but in fact they had lost on it. The figures they produced at the time were absurdly huge. They publicly painted themselves into a corner over this and came out looking cheap, mean and lying.

I, as well as you and all the other posters, are not privy to details of 20 years of Nichia company life or Nakamura's same 20 years of employment, so supposition is just that, supposition.

But I do know as fact, the way Nichia handled itself, was consistent with stand-over tactics used by many companies and they backfired, losing credibility.

So I feel comfortable to view them negatively.

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No, my complaint is that Nichia is getting a lot of unwarranted flak for normal business practices and Nakamura is getting a lot of unwarranted glory for denigrating his former employers.

Nichia may be catching a lot of flak, but it is hardly unwarranted. I don't know the details of the relationship between Prof. Nakamura and Nichia during his 20 years of employment, but none of that information is particularly relevant to this case. The most important fact in this case is that Prof. Nakamura was employed by Nichia at the time he invented the Blue LED. Because of this, each side had specific legal obligations to the other. If you understand the legal framework, you will see that it was Nichia, not Prof. Nakamura, that failed to honor its side of the employment agreement.

Because the blue LED was invented by Prof. Nakamura as part of his work for Nichia and using Nichia resources, it was legally an “employee invention”. Article 35(1) of the Japanese Patent Law makes clear that such inventions are owned by the employee, and the employer has only a right to use the invention free of charge as part of its business (called “shop rights”, which cannot be licensed by the employer). Undoubtedly, however, Prof. Nakamura signed an employment agreement that required him to assign full ownership to Nichia. It is clear that he did this because Nichia licensed the patent and even sued Prof. Nakamura himself. When an assignment takes place under an employment contract, as happened in this case, Article 35(3) of the Patent Law states that the employer must pay the employee “reasonable remuneration” for the assigned rights. In addition, Article 35(4) states that the amount of the remuneration will take into consideration the profits earned from the invention and the employer’s contribution. That’s the law, now consider what Nichia did (or more precisely didn’t do) in this case.

Despite a clear legal obligation to do so, Nichia never paid Prof. Nakamura more that the 20,000 yen originally paid when the patent was granted. In its decision in 2004, the Tokyo District Court, after hearing the arguments from both sides, determined that Nichia made 120.8 billion yen in profit from the patent and that Nichia’s contribution to the invention was 50%, thereby calculating the amount that should have been paid to Prof. Nakamura at 60 billion yen. They ordered Nichia to pay only 20 billion yen because that was the amount requested by Prof. Nakamura. Nichia, of course appealed the judgment to the Tokyo High Court, which ordered the parties to try to negotiate a settlement. The High Court made it clear that it would not uphold the District Court order and would limit its finding for Prof. Nakamura’s contribution at 5% (6 billion yen). In the end, Prof. Nakamura settled for 608 million yen in compensation and 236 million yen in fees for delays in payment. This amount valued Nichia’s contribution to the patent at 99.5%. For 8 years between 1993 and 2001, Nichia had the chance to do the right (legally required) thing, but chose not to do so. Nichia’s conduct, however, was consistent with normal business practices at the time. In addition to the blue LED case, there were several other cases around that time brought by former employees against large Japanese companies, including Sony, Ajinomoto, Hitachi, and Olympus seeking additional compensation for profitable employee inventions. In most of these cases the companies were ordered to pay tens of millions of yen in additional compensation to the inventors.

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Miracle Max : ... in 2004, the Tokyo District Court, after hearing the arguments from both sides, determined that Nichia made 120.8 billion yen in profit from the patent and that Nichia’s contribution to the invention was 50%, thereby calculating the amount that should have been paid to Prof. Nakamura at 60 billion yen. They ordered Nichia to pay only 20 billion yen because that was the amount requested by Prof. Nakamura. ...

It's cherry-picking unless they took into account all the unprofitable projects and lines of research and attempts to market, which Nichia was on the hook for but Nakamura was not.

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It's cherry-picking unless they took into account all the unprofitable projects

turbotsat... As applicable in 2004 (there have been some changes as the result of this case), Article 35(3) clearly stated that the amount of compensation paid for the rights to an employee invention was to be determined by looking at the profit from the invention at issue, not from the employee's entire employment history. You can call it cherry-picking, but that was what the law required Nichia to do.

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MiracleM - thanks for the welcomed insight into the legalities.

Nichia had a legal obligation and not just a so called moral obligation.

So they suffered.

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Miracle Max : Article 35(3) clearly stated that the amount of compensation paid for the rights to an employee invention was to be determined by looking at the profit from the invention at issue, not from the employee's entire employment history.

Thanks for the qualification, but I mean the company's projects as a whole, not even just Nakamura's projects, so yeah, cherry-picking.

Suppose just for example this is a drug company and it's the only successful project they ever had, and that they've got lots of bad projects. If Employee B gets 50 percent of the profits Nichia's likely in the red at that point, funding all their other projects from the 50 percent of profit obtained from the one successful drug.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pharmaceutical_industry#The_cost_of_innovation

Drug companies are like other companies in that they manufacture products that must be sold for a profit in order for the company to survive and grow. They are different from some companies because the drug business is very risky. For instance, only one out of every ten thousand discovered compounds actually becomes an approved drug for sale. Much expense is incurred in the early phases of development of compounds that will not become approved drugs.[7] In addition, it takes about 7 to 10 years and only 3 out of every 20 approved drugs bring in sufficient revenue to cover their developmental costs, and only 1 out of every 3 approved drugs generates enough money to cover the development costs of previous failures. This means that for a drug company to survive, it needs to discover a blockbuster (billion-dollar drug) every few years.[7]

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the president could have called Nakamura back into his office

Except that Nakamura admits he was ignoring every order coming from my boss and stopped answering phones, attending meetings, .....For a two-month period, I threw away all written orders. How to call him in?

maybe that's what the president did, and Nakamura just isn't telling us the truth - is that what you think?

I have no idea what the true situation was - I imagine it was a bit of bad on both sides. But I am very wary of taking Nakamura at face value when he states on the one hand that Nichia gave him 'more freedom in (my) research work there in comparison with a big company' but then claims that 'the products (he) developed according to the company's orders didn't sell' ; so which is it, he had freedom or he was ordered to make stuff that didn't sell? And if he'd been making stuff that didn't seek, until he started working on the blue LED he was hardly the whizz-kid he and some others would have us believe.

I think you are off the mark here, if you are saying that they couldn't have fired him.

That's not what I'm saying at all. They certainly could have fired him, for ignoring orders and not doing the job he was being paid to do. What I'm saying is that he was lucky he wasn't fired. And I'm thinking there was maybe some reason why he wasn't. It wouldn't be because his evil bosses enjoyed watching him stew.

Nichia's conduct, however, was consistent with normal business practices at the time.

Exactly.

It's cherry-picking unless they took into account all the unprofitable projects and lines of research and attempts to market, which Nichia was on the hook for but Nakamura was not.

Yes. Nakamura himself claims none of the other stuff he developed made any profit.

Nichia had a legal obligation and not just a so called moral obligation.

Yes they did, but it's not as clear-cut as some would have us believe. Nichia claimed the profits from the blue LED were dependent on a number of different patents; in his suit Nakamura insisted that the contribution rate of his invention was 100%. Paying that, plus paying 'reasonable remuneration' at a similar level for all the other patents involved, would have seen Nichia financially destroyed. Certainly by trying to claim the profit from Nakamura's invention was less than it was, Nichia was less than honest; but the same can be said of Nakamura who claimed he had 'more freedom' but was forced to obey orders, who claimed that the stuff he developed did not sell, but that before the blue LED he made a huge contribution to the company that should have got him more recognition and promotion.

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Exactly.

Just to be clear, I was not implying that what Nichia did was acceptable or proper. I was simply acknowledging that many other Japanese companies were engaged in the same improper conduct. And, as previously noted, many others were held to account for such conduct.

Yes they did, but it's not as clear-cut as some would have us believe.

There is nothing more clear-cut in this case than Nichia’s failure to meet its legal obligation. The arguments being put forth by you and turbotsat miss the point. The two of you are arguing that other things should have been considered when determining the appropriate amount of compensation for Prof. Nakamura’s invention. That is all well and good, but Article 35(4), as written at the time, clearly says that only two things needed to be taken into consideration: the profit from the invention and the contribution by the employer. You may not agree with that, but that is what Nichia was legally required, but failed, to do. The judges who heard the evidence presented by both sides(rather than relying on heresay) found that Nichia made 120.8 billion yen in profit from Prof. Nakamura’s invention. In order for the 20,000 yen payment to be “reasonable remuneration” under Article 35(4), Prof. Nakamura’s contribution to the invention would be valued at 0.0000016%. This would be highly unlikely for a person awarded a Nobel Prize for said invention.

Paying that, plus paying 'reasonable remuneration' at a similar level for all the other patents involved, would have seen Nichia financially destroyed.

That is a flawed argument in two respects. First, it assumes that all patents required to practice the technology are of equal value. This is not a realistic scenario. In almost all emerging technologies there is a very valuable foundational patent that claims the basics of the technology so that all others who want to practice the technology need to get a license. Most other patents in the same technological field are of little value because alternatives to the claimed invention are available. Based on the awarding of the Nobel Prize, it seems pretty safe to assume that Prof. Nakamura’s patent was a foundational patent in the field. Therefore, it is unlikely that Nichia would have been required to pay for all other patents at a similar level. Second, the “reasonable remuneration” standard applies only to inventions made by employees. Since it is pretty clear that Prof. Nakamura was the only person at Nichia working on the blue LED technology all related patents could have been covered in a single settlement between the parties, had Nichia chose that course of action. If Nichia made commitments to others that made the technology financially impractical, that would be a problem Nichia brought on itself and irrelevant to its obligation to Prof. Nakamura.

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The two of you are arguing that other things should have been considered when determining the appropriate amount of compensation for Prof. Nakamura's invention.

All kinds of things should have been and were considered when determining the amount of compensation, but that isn't what I'm arguing at all. All I'm saying is that Nichia wasn't the devil-company from hell that it is being portrayed as, any more than Nakamura was either the corporate hero or risk-taking maverick he is being portrayed as.

it assumes that all patents required to practice the technology are of equal value.

No, it follows the logical argument that if the contribution rate of a single patent is 100%, simple mathematics says that the contribution rate of all other patents involved in an invention is zero. Obviously that cannot be the case; if it were, they would not be involved. And if the other patents involved have any kind of positive contribution rate, which they must have, then no one patent can have a contribution rate of 100%. The court acknowledged that 'the invention of the blue LED was the result of efforts and creativity of not just Nakamura alone but of many people.'

One interesting nugget I picked up while reading around this topic is the claim on this page - http://www.taniabe.co.jp/e/infomation/main-patent009.html - that Nakamura claimed his patent was not an Employee Invention as covered by Article 35 because Nichia did not assign him to do the work, and as such he wanted 2 billion yen for it; but that if the court found it was an Employee Invention, he still wanted 2 billion yen. I can understand his claim that it was not an Employee Invention, in view of his claim that he worked on it despite being ordered to stop by his boss; but if that makes it not an Employee Invention, it would be his, not the company's, to patent; and at the same time it would lay him open to being sued by Nichia for pilfering company time and resources. As I said, this case is not clear-cut. Both sides were being 'creative' with their arguments in order to get the best result for themselves.

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Miracle Max : The two of you are arguing that other things should have been considered when determining the appropriate amount of compensation for Prof. Nakamura’s invention. That is all well and good, but Article 35(4), as written at the time, clearly says ...

Well, but you already said that, and JT comment forum is not a legal forum or court of law where we have to restrict our thoughts to what the law allows.

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@Miracle Max

Thanks for the legal background, that is very informative. But the expression “reasonable remuneration” couldn't be more vague. It certainly guarantees ample rewards for the legal profession. A target percentage of gross revenue would be the easiest to calculate - profits are easy to disappear.

@turbostat

You are right that companies should not be stripped of profits. “Reasonable remuneration” means that there is reasonable profit for the corporation and reasonable reward to motivate researchers = win-win. I think the justification for the law is to improve the overall productivity of research in Japan. "Researcher intellectual property rights" is a necessary byproduct of that justification, but not the original motivation.

You could argue the law will do nothing to improve productivity because researchers are already sufficiently motivated by intellectual curiosity, or that in principal it shouldn't be regulated at all because it is unwarranted interference of government in private business. (But in my opinion the law is practical.)

@cleo ... "What I'm saying is that he was lucky he wasn't fired. And I'm thinking there was maybe some reason why he wasn't. It wouldn't be because his evil bosses enjoyed watching him stew."

I guess he wasn't fired because they wanted his invention. And I guess they asked him to stop working on it because they needed time to take the project away from him, or at least make it appear that other employees would equally be credited with the invention. That would clearly have been theft followed by fraud - they could have been in serious trouble if they had succeeded. Nichia is lucky that they didn't succeed in that!

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We should erect a statue in honor of Shuji Nakamura. Underneath it should read not "Boys, be ambitious" but "Boys, Be Brave and Angry" Loved and admired this man from page one when he took his company to court, quit and took off for the very green pastures. It's what every Japanese boy angry and disappointed with Japan should do. That should bring the population down to zero.

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