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Nichia plans to waive LED patent right
[February 12, 2006]

Nichia plans to waive LED patent right

(Kyodo News International (Tokyo) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Feb. 11--TOKUSHIMA -- Nichia Corp. is planning to waive its patent right of the blue light-emitting diode technology used in a broad range of products from traffic signals to mobile phone screens after a legal row with former employee Shuji Nakamura, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The patent 404 concerning the method of manufacturing crystal nitrogen gallium was invented by Nakamura while he was working with the company, based in Anan, Tokushima Prefecture.

During a legal dispute with Nakamura, Nichia maintained that the patent had made no contribution to the development of the blue LED technology.

A spokesman for the company said Friday he could not go into detail about the planned waiver of the patent at present.

In January 2004, the Tokyo District Court ordered Nichia to pay 20 billion yen to Nakamura, saying the company had made huge profits through exclusive use of the blue LED patent. The company later appealed the ruling.

A year later, Nichia and Nakamura reached a negotiated settlement on the dispute on the landmark patent with Nichia agreeing to pay 843 million yen to Nakamura, now professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The settlement, mediated by the Tokyo High Court, is the largest in Japan to be paid for an employee's invention.

Nichia commercialized the blue LED in 1993 for the first time in the world. It converts electricity into blue light. Experts say the invention was revolutionary, as it made it possible to create all colors on computer screens when a blue LED is combined with red and green LED. Technology for red and green was established earlier.

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