Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Japanese Inventor Wins Loads Of Money For Patents, Inspires Kids To Sue

from the children,-today-we-learn-how-to-sue dept

The article doesn't get into the full details of this case, but apparently a Japanese inventor who came up with some of the core technologies for optical discs has won a judgment against his former employer, Hitachi for $1.5 million. Hitachi bought the patents from the inventor for about $20,000 and he felt he was cheated. He sued, and in an earlier case won about $300,000, but decided it wasn't enough, so he sued again. Where the article isn't clear is under what agreements the original patents were sold. Was he forced to sell them at the lower price? Was it based on the contract he already had with Hitachi? Because, it sounds like it's quite possible the guy just had a bad contract. Still, the part of the story that's much more amusing is the reaction from the lawyer of the inventor. Somehow, this lawyer actually believes that because the inventor won a patent lawsuit for so much money, it will make him seem "like football and baseball players" to children, who will now have a much greater interest in science. Yes, now those little children can dream of growing up and winning big patent lawsuits as well!

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Jan 2004 @ 3:18pm

    No Subject Given

    The key factor is, unlike the US, Japan is generally very very very mean when it comes to sharing money derived from patents. That was the thrust of the article, in that it was talking about the largest even patent payment made in Japan... and that's the context in which the quotes about an interest in science should be taken.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Oliver Wendell Jones, 30 Jan 2004 @ 7:42am

      Re: No Subject Given

      It never ceases to amaze me the differences in how patents are handled within corporations between countries.

      The corporation that I work for has offices in practically every country in the world. Here in US if you submit a patent to the USPTO and it's accepted, you get a nice plaque from the company, a letter and $1 cash as "payment" for your efforts.

      If you work for the same corporation in Germany, you get a percentage of profits earned due to that patent, so if you "invent" a new product for the company, you're basically set for life and the rights and profits from your invention are yours (or your surviving family members!) for as long as the company continues to earn profit from it.

      Needless to say it has adversely affected my efforts to submit my patent ideas. One patent looks better on a resume than no patents, but does two patents really look that much better than just one?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Director Mitch, 30 Jan 2004 @ 9:11am

        Re: No Subject Given

        Yeah, Oliver is right.

        I remember sitting patent award "ceremonies" of a large semiconductor company where the recipients got a plaque and something like a $1000 check (better than $1, but not exactly an incentive). It was stuff like this that helped create all the start-ups during the boom years of the late 90s since engineers could leave the large company and see direct financial returns from their efforts via stock, etc. at the start-up. While those days are over, I don't think the resentment is.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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