Police raids ratchet up OLED dispute

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Police raids ratchet up OLED dispute

Police raids Tuesday of Samsung Display’s headquarters and three factories have again sparked a game of truth or dare between Samsung Display and LG Display over who stole whose OLED (organic light emitting diode) panel technology. Their battle had been showing signs of waning following the government’s intervention in late January.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s international crime investigation team raided and seized documents from Samsung Display’s headquarters in Asan, South Chungcheong, as well as factories in Asan, Cheonan, South Chungcheong, and Giheung, Gyeonggi.

Police said they acquired information that Samsung stole OLED TV technologies from LG, probably with the help of two LG business partners.

The two rivals have been waging a court battle over the OLED technology since last year. The prosecution indicted without detention 11 LG Display workers and some former and current researchers at Samsung Display in July.

Samsung, as a counteroffensive, filed a suit against LG to suspend use of LG’s OLED patents. LG followed suit, claiming Samsung violated LG’s OLED and LCD patents.

OLED is known to offer 20 percent more enhanced resolution than the widely used LED technology, while being thinner and lighter. LG Electronics, the display arms’ affiliate, launched sales of the world’s first 55-inch OLED TV in January, while a large-sized OLED TV from Samsung has been delayed.

Samsung Display CEO Kim Ki-nam denied allegations of technology spying in front of reporters yesterday.

“Samsung Display accounts for 98 percent of the global OLED market [for mobile gadgets]. We worry about our own technology leakage and have no reason to look at technology belonging to another company.”

LG’s response was more intense: “We have this understanding that the police raided Samsung because there is a sizable volume of evidence that the company stole our technology through our business partners.”

While Samsung uses an RGB (red, green and blue) pixel configuration for OLED panel technology, LG has added a white pixel, W-RGB, and applied another method of allocating the organic materials in different colors than Samsung. Although Samsung is dominant in smaller OLED panels using the RGB method, it is known to be facing a technological barrier when it comes to mass producing large panels using the same architecture.

By Seo Ji-eun [spring@joongang.co.kr]
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