Inventor Wins Japan’s Highest Patent Compensation Award after Suing ex-employer Hitachi

March 2004


The Tokyo High Court has 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 (£1.32m / $2.08m) for his work on three optical disc technology patents. Hitachi had originally paid Mr Yonezawa 2.3m yen in compensation. Hitachi said it was considering an appeal and believed its rulebook on compensation was in line with other firms. During the mid-1970s Mr. Yonezawa developed optical disc technologies that resulted in three patents. Hitachi paid him 2.3m yen to take over the patents. Mr Yonezawa first took Hitachi to court two years ago and won 34.9m yen in compensation in the Tokyo District Court. Mr. Yonezawa 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.
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