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LG Display employees charged with theft of OLED technology from Samsung

July 19, 2012
If you’ve watched LG and Samsung over the past decade or so, you would’ve realized just how similar Samsung and LG products were in the vast majority of cases. At some point, I even started to think about LG devices as cheaper, poorer alternatives to Samsung’s devices. But why was this happening?

Samsung and LG are both from South Korea, and both being 2 of the biggest consumer electronics companies there, it would be hard not to get “inspired” by each other’s products. But then I started noticing how some of LG’s products, that came out almost in the same time with the Samsung product appeared the same, and even had much of the same software UI. That seemed strange to me, because there’s no way they  could’ve done it like that by accident. I was thinking they must’ve had some sort of early access to Samsung’s prototypes, and the only way they could’ve done that is if they had some spies inside Samsung, willing to steal the products plans for them.

Now I know I wasn’t imagining things, because breaking news has revealed 6 of LG Display’s own employees, along with 5 others, who were probably working at Samsung, but were also on LG’s paycheck, were charged with theft of OLED technology from Samsung. This took place between 2010 and 2011. While LG denies these claims, Samsung says LG “systematically stole its display technology and poached Samsung employees.”

Again, I tend to believe Samsung here, because from what I’ve noticed LG has been doing this to Samsung systematically for at least a decade, since the flip-phones showed up on the market, which is when I started noticing it myself. But of course, we should let the Korean Court decide if LG is guilty as charged in this OLED case.

My main complaint about LG doing this is not that they keep copying Samsung or even that they literally “steal” technology from them (although that doesn’t sound right at all to me), but that LG always ends with second rate products when they do this. Even when they are using different designs and software, they’re still trying to follow Samsung’s strategy in the market ( LG Optimus VU anyone?) Why are they trying to be in Samsung’s shadow so much, when they could follow their own path, and do their own unique things, and in the same time increase their popularity and reputation.

I’ve noticed they’ve been trying to do more of this lately, but I think they need to try harder. The Optimus 4X HD is a very nice phone, and they’re almost “there”, but hopefully it’s just a starting point for them, and we’ll see a lot better things in the future.