Monday, March 14, 2005

JAPAN TECH FIRMS REVAMPING INVENTION REWARD SYSTEMS: With scientists and engineers growing more assertive about receiving monetary compensation, Hitachi Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and other leading technology companies are moving to retool their remuneration systems for worker inventions.

Several high-profile court trials (most notably Nichia's Blue LED case) have placed a new urgency on firms to comply with the revised Patent Law taking effect in April, and to make their remuneration systems more transparent and more acceptable. Companies are looking to revamp their systems in an effort to hold on to researchers and create an environment that effectively promotes the development of excellent inventions.

Hitachi has already introduced several measures, including an arbitration committee to handle cases when workers are unhappy with their remuneration for inventions. To be more transparent, the firm discloses the basis for its calculations and announces which workers have received the most remuneration.

Toshiba is introducing similar measures. The company has put its invention reward calculation rules on its intranet, and starting next month it will introduce a system so that workers can protest if they believe that they have not received proper remuneration for inventions.

Asahi Glass Co. has also established a system to deal with inventors who are dissatisfied with their remuneration. It has revised its reward payment system as well. Starting with patents that generate license revenues this fiscal year, Asahi Glass will pay remuneration equal to 2.5% of the license revenues. Until now, the payout was only 0.25% to 1% of the license revenues. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Sharp Corp. are also studying changes to their systems.

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