Japanese seasonings company Ajinomoto has been hit with a lawsuit demanding it pay ¥2bn (US$16.4m) to a former employee. Masayoshi Naruse, the former head of one of Ajinomoto's research institutes, claims the company has withheld payment for his transferral of the rights to the patents for aspartame, now sold by Ajinomoto under the PalSweet brand. Sources close to the situation claim that the fair amount of compensation for the transfer of rights had been legally guaranteed.