2005/01/13

Some Progress

The inventor of the blue LED [Light Emitting Diode], Shuji Nakamura, has settled with his former employer, the Nichia Corporation, to be paid $8.1 million for his very lucrative invention. This is infinitely more just than the initial payment of $200 he received for the creation of Intellectual Property that is worth roughly $580 million to the company. A lower court awarded him $200 million, but he was urged to settle for $8.1 million by his lawyer on the appeal.

While it is good to see that the Japanese business culture is changing to be more open to financially rewarding employees who create profitable intellectual property [this article from the New York Times cites other examples; free registration required], I believe that he probably deserved an award more in line with the $200 million.

For years, blue LEDs were a holy grail of the LED industry. With the three primary colours of light [Red, Green and Blue], any colour can be created. Red and green LEDs had been possible for decades, but without blue, many LED applications were very limited in the colours they could use [for example, LED advertising]. Also enabled by the invention of the blue LED was the white LED [because equal parts of Red, Green and Blue light create White light]. The white LED has become very popular in flashlights, where they last many, many times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs; I have two such flashlights myself. [Hat tip: TIA Daily]

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