*NEWS*COURT ORDERS CANON TO PAY EX-WORKER
*NEWS*COURT ORDERS CANON TO PAY EX-WORKER
2007-02-06 at 10:31:00 am #17743
Court orders Canon to pay ex-worker compensation for laser printer technology
February 2007 TOKYO — A court has ordered Canon to compensate a former employee for laser printer technology he developed, the latest in a spate of legal battles that pit inventors against big-name Japanese companies.In the ruling in Tokyo District Court by presiding judge Ryuichi sh*tara, Canon was ordered to pay Kazuo Minoura, the engineer, 33.5 million yen, or $275,000, as his due for profits that his work earned Canon, a court official said on condition of anonymity.
Canon Inc. said it will likely appeal.
“We have consistently asserted that all payment has been completed,” the company said in a statement. “We are working toward an appeal as the ruling is fundamentally incompatible with our view, and the amount is also totally unacceptable.”Mr. Minoura filed the lawsuit in 2003, demanding 1 billion yen, or $8.2 million, in compensation for his role in developing the technology, which enables laser printers to produce high-quality images. The lawsuit said the technology earned Canon hundreds of millions of dollars.”I’m so disappointed the amount was so low,” Mr. Minoura said on nationally televised news.According to the lawsuit, Mr. Minoura, 61, who worked at Tokyo-based Canon from 1968 to 2002, was paid 850,000 yen ($7,000) by the company for his breakthrough.The lawsuit highlights the growing conflict over intellectual property between workers and companies in Japan, where a culture of corporate loyalty tends to demand big sacrifices from workers. The workers are sometimes not sufficiently rewarded or recognized for their contributions to the company’s overall performance.It is still rare for Japanese companies to spell out how individual employees might benefit from patent royalty payments.Last year, in a landmark ruling supporting inventor rights, Japan’s Supreme Court ordered Hitachi Ltd. to pay 163 million yen, or about $1.3 million, to Seiji Yonezawa, who invented technology for reading compact discs and digital video discs while working for the electronics maker.Mr. Yonezawa’s attorneys say Hitachi paid him a bonus of 118,000 yen, or about $1,000, for one of three patents he filed in the 1970s for technology to read CDs and DVDs.In 2001, Shuji Nakamura, a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara, became one of the first Japanese scientists to take his case to court for a highly lucrative technology.He said his former employer, Nichia Corp., paid him a token bonus of 20,000 yen — just $160 — for his work developing the blue LED, or light-emitting diode, widely used in lighting for traffic signals and cell phones. Mr. Nakamura agreed in 2005 to an 840 million yen, or $6.9 million, settlement with Nichia.
When Canon phased out a printer model
CORPORATE income from heaven is soon followed by a militant employee from hell. Watch out! If you call yourself a liberal manager trying to empower people to do creative thinking, you need to learn from one important legal case that happened to Canon recently.
feb 2007 said that a Tokyo court has ordered Canon to pay 33.52 million yen (about P15 million) to a former employee who invented technology to help run its laser printers. In a suit over the patented technology of the computer printer and camera giant, Kazuo Minoura, 61, demanded that Canon pay him one billion yen (P500 million) for inventing the technology.Minoura, who worked at Canon from 1968 through 2002, claims he invented the technology while working as a researcher for the company and is now claiming one billion yen for his efforts.Canon expressed disgust with the ruling and said it will consider filing an appeal as it claimed that it already paid 850,000 yen (P400,000) for Minoura’s contribution in accordance with the prevailing company rules at the time.The issue is laser technology and the right of Minoura to be paid the right amount of cash reward. So what’s the right amount? We have to stop here and leave it to the court. Let the judicial proceedings continue . . .Now what? I’ll say that Minoura’s invention appears to have contributed to Canon brand’s popularity in the market, like a classic example of “breakpoint.” Incidentally, “breakpoint” came out of Henry Johansson’s Business Process Reengineering: Breakpoint Strategies for Market Dominance (Wiley 1993) that talks about an innovation or radical departure from marketplace expectation that creates unrealized opportunities to seize market share.That’s what Canon appears to be headed with or without this legal battle.While they prepare for a lengthy legal battle, we the consumers may have to ignore Canon’s original but pricey ink cartridges, by going to Ink for Less, if not choose a lower-priced replacement very much like what everybody is doing against Hewlett-Packard, Epson, and what have you.Why not? Take the Canon printer model Pixma iP1000 that I bought in January 2006 for P1,995 from one retail establishment trying to undercut Abenson that sells it for P2,400. I told you, it pays to do a canvass. And it’s good for your body too when you do a kilometer brisk walk in and out of a shopping mall.There’s truth to what manufacturers can do against consumers. They will give you a printer model that’s practically free of charge but you can’t use unless you buy their pricey ink cartridges. That’s the scary part.Look, the original Canon BCI-24 black ink cartridge sells for P400 while the color cartridge is at P665. And they last only for about less than 73 and 1/3 pages of standard bond paper, including smeared ones.Because of the prohibitive cost, I’ve been using replacement ink cartridges at P90 for black and P110 for color from Compex until I found a much better alternative from CD-R-King—that generic ink re-filling kit suitable for a fourth grader who can do the refilling himself, like a toddler mixing his own milk formula.CD-R-King sells a replacement for 30ml bottle of black ink at P35 while the color base (cyan, yellow, and magenta) is pegged at P95. What a steal, isn’t? Or is it?So what happens to the original Canon printer if you’re using a “fake” ink cartridge? Would the “replacement” ink hasten the demise of your printer, if not double the repair cost, if anything like it happens?Never mind. If the unit breaks down, it’s still cost-effective in the long run. I told to myself—this is a wonderful product that was created by Canon, and of course by Minoura. If I have the money, I’ll stock up for at least two units to last me for four years, two months, and six days.Unfortunately, Canon has phased out iPixma 1000 and replaced it with a sleek model 1200 and 1300 unit for almost the same price at P2,200 but the ink cartridge is much higher at P995 for black while the color ink at P1,150 and I guess you cannot go on print a 40-page mark without replacing that miniature cartridge that probably contains not more than 5ml of ink. Further, the trouble is—you cannot tamper with it or else you’ll end up breaking the cartridge.To make matters worse, there are no replacement cartridges for these yet, at least not at the moment. Now I know why in this part of the world, the product that we like is the only one not on sale. It’s like a terrifying scene from the movie Jurassic Pixma.