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Blue LED boffin wins $8.1m from ex-employer

Could have been $189m...

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The brains behind those flashing blue lights used in almost all the world's Bluetooth devices to show they're working has won $8.1m from the company he alleged had failed to compensate him appropriately for his discovery.

The inventor of the blue LED, Professor Shuji Nakamura, was orginally paid an extra $200 for his work by his then employer, Nichia, a Japanese chemicals company. Today, he is engaged in research at the University of California.

Nakamura took Nichia to court in 2001. He was initally awarded a whopping $189m in compensation, but his opponent appealed, claiming the payment would puts its future in jeopardy. Last month, the Japanese high court told the two parties to reach a settlement that would leave Nichia still standing.

Lawyers for both sides thrashed out the $8.1m deal, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, a figure with which Nakamura said he was "completely dissatisfied" - who wouldn't be in the circumstances? - but felt he had to accept. His lawyer, however, said the settlement still amounted to a "major victory for the researcher who claimed his rights as an individual". ®

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