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It's not a good idea to illegally sell Samsung technology to other companies

The group allegedly sold documents related to Samsung Display's displays to an unnamed Chinese company for around $13.8 million.

Published onNovember 29, 2018

Samsung Logo from CES FirstLook 2018-1
  • Prosecutors charged nine people and two companies with illegally selling Samsung technology.
  • The group allegedly sold Samsung Display IP to an unnamed Chinese company for around $13.8 million.
  • Samsung is the market leader for smartphone- and tablet-sized OLED displays.

Samsung found itself on the receiving end of bad news today, when Reuters reported that nine people and two companies were indicted for allegedly selling Samsung’s OLED display technology.

According to prosecutors in Suwon, South Korea, the CEO of Samsung supplier Toptec Co. Ltd. and eight of his employees created a shell company headed by the CEO’s sister-in-law. This company would receive documents related to display panels from Samsung subsidiary Samsung Display. The group of nine people then sold these documents and “3D lamination” technology to an unnamed Chinese company between May and August of this year for 15.5 billion won (~$13.8 million).

Prosecutors also said it took Samsung six years, 38 engineers, and 150 billion won (~$134 million) to develop the intellectual property that the group allegedly leaked. Seeing how integral Samsung’s success is to the South Korean economy, the country considers the IP national core technology.

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In a statement to Bloomberg, Samsung Display said it was “shocked at the results of the investigation by prosecutors, at a time when competitors are intensifying their technological rivalry.” Samsung Display also said it would keep a close eye on the upcoming trial.

In a separate statement sent to Reuters, Toptec denied any wrongdoing.

“Our company has never provided Samsung Display’s industrial technology or business secrets to a Chinese client. Our company will fully cooperate with legal proceedings to find the truth in court.”

Samsung has plenty of reason to keep its IP close to its chest — the company is the market leader when it comes to smartphone- and tablet-sized OLED displays. Samsung also wants to lead the foldable OLED market, recently showing off the progress it’s made.

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