Shunpei Yamazaki

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Shunpei Yamazaki (山崎 舜平?, Yamazaki Shumpei, born 1942) is a Japanese inventor in the field of computer science and solid-state physics. He is a prolific inventor listed on 4,063 U.S. utility patents,[1] as of July 7, 2015. In 2005 he was named as the most prolific inventor in history by USA Today.[2] Yamazaki was subsequently passed by Kia Silverbrook on February 26, 2008.[3][4]

Semiconductor Energy Laboratory[edit]

Shunpei Yamazaki is the president and majority shareholder of research company Semiconductor Energy Laboratory (SEL) in Tokyo. Most of the patents he holds are in relation to computer display technology and held by SEL, with Yamazaki named either individually or jointly as inventor. Since 1996, SEL has appeared in the Intellectual Property Owners Association annual listings of the top global companies ranked by US patents:

Year IPO Rank U.S. Patents
1996 124 90 [5]
1997 110 97 [6]
1998 112 127 [7]
1999 83 184 [8]
2000 96 155 [9]
2001 84 209 [10]
2002 76 246 [11]
2003 65 273 [12]
2004 60 336 [13]
2005 61 292 [14]
2006 55 405 [15]
2007 49 413 [16]
2008 40 468 [17]
2009 40 545[18]
2010 36 734[19]
2011 34 761[20]

Recently, SEL developed a display technology using crystallized indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) as the transparent semiconductor material in the TFT array in conjunction with Sharp Corporation. SEL has an increasing patent portfolio relating to IGZO. SEL was awarded the Gold Award for the Display of the Year with Sharp at the Society for Information Display in 2013.[21]

SEL vs Samsung[edit]

In 1996, SEL was involved in a patent case against Samsung. District court[who?] has found that SEL patent 5,543,636 is not enforceable because of inequitable conduct on the part of SEL (in particular, it was found that SEL had intentionally withheld one of the references, and had intentionally misled the examiner, with deceitful intent). In 2000, decision of district court[who?] has been affirmed by United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Semiconductor Energy Laboratory Co. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 204 F.3d 1368, 1374, 54 USPQ2d 1001, 1005 (Fed. Cir. 2000).[22]


This case has had important implications on US patent processes. In particular, the court has held that "withheld reference may be highly material when it discloses a more complete combination of relevant features, even if those features are before the patent examiner in other references." Based in part on this case, the Patent Office has suggested that patent applicants "evaluate the materiality of prior art or other information from the viewpoint of whether it is the closest prior art or other information" [23] and "that an attorney or agent make sure that foreign clients, including foreign applicants, attorneys, and agents understand the requirements of the duty of disclosure, and that the U.S. attorney or agent review any information disclosure statements or citations to ensure that compliance with 37 CFR 1.56 is present".[23]