Diabetes test inventor wins £2m

As reported by BBC News in November, scientist Professor Ian Shanks has been awarded £2m compensation by the UK’s highest court for his invention of pioneering technology to test blood sugar levels nearly 40 years ago. He developed the system, used by many diabetics, while working for Unilever in the 1980s. The rights to his invention belonged to the company and until now he was not entitled to a share of the benefits.

Prof Shanks developed new technology – electrochemical capillary fill device (ECFD) – which to this day is still used to measure the concentration of glucose in blood and other liquids. His ECFD technology eventually appeared in most glucose testing products, which are used multiple times a day by people with diabetes to monitor their condition.

The court unanimously ruled that Prof Shanks’s invention had provided his former employer with an “outstanding benefit” for which he should receive compensation. Judge Lord Kitchin said the rewards Unilever enjoyed “were substantial and significant” and Prof Shanks was entitled to a “fair share” of the company’s net benefit of around £24m from the patents.

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