Issue 154 | January 30, 2004
Japanese Inventor Remuneration Sets New Record
 According to the Mainichi Daily News, on January 29, 2004, the Tokyo High Court ordered Hitachi to pay a former employee a record 162 million yen ($1.5 million) for his part in patenting technology for reading data from optical discs. In making the ruling, the court overruled a November 2002 Tokyo District Court decision that awarded Seiji Yonezawa close to 35 million yen, and then raised that amount to 162 million yen in order to account for overseas patents.

The award is likely to strengthen calls for the reform of Article 35 of the Japanese Patent Law which encourages invention by ensuring that employees are fairly compensated for assigning their patent rights. In return for receiving rights to an invention created at work, Japanese employers must pay "adequate remuneration" to their employee inventors. The amount the remuneration is determined with due consideration to "the amount of profit that the employers will receive from the said invention," and "the degree of contribution by the employers to the creation of the said invention."

In December 2003, an advisory council to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry issued its latest report on "Improvement of employee-invention system" at http://www.jpo.go.jp/shiryou_e/toushin_e/shingikai_e/
. The report calls for continuing to provide employers with non-exclusive patent licenses on employee's inventions. It also proposes giving greater emphasis to employers contributions to the commercial success of an invention, such as through prosecution of patent applications, development of technologies for exploiting the invention, and sales, advertising, and licensing activities.

Advisory panels to the prime minister are also studying whether to create a independent intellectual property high court, or a special section devoted exclusively to intellectual property within the Tokyo High Court. Their work follows amendments to the Japanese Civil Procedure Code in July that paved the way for all patent lawsuits to be brought before the Tokyo and Osaka district courts in order to enhance the consistency of decisions.

This issue of "APLF Updates," was brought to you by Bill Heinze (bill.heinze@tkhr.com), at Thomas, Kayden, Horstemeyer & Risley LLP in Atlanta, Georgia USA.

The information contained in this email is provided for informational purposes only and does not represent legal advice. Neither the APLF nor the author intends to create an attorney client relationship by providing this information to you through this message.

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