Employees of Samsung charged with tech theft

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Employees of Samsung charged with tech theft

A conflict between Samsung Display and LG Display is intensifying after prosecutors indicted employees of Samsung Display and the CEO of an LG Display subcontractor on Friday on charges of stealing and selling LG’s technology.

In a statement Sunday, LG Display said it deeply regrets the illegal and systematic extortion of OLED technology by Samsung Display and that Samsung must stop unfairly attacking competitors.

“Samsung Display was prosecuted for intentionally approaching one of LG Display’s subcontractors and stealing LG Display’s OLED technology through a false promise for an equipment purchase,” said a spokesman for LG Display.

“We earnestly urge Samsung to compete in good faith and stop devoting its energies to blemishing competitors through means other than fair competition, such as patent litigation and illegal acquisition of technologies.”

Suwon District Court charged four Samsung Display employees and the subcontractor CEO without detention with violating laws related to prevention of unfair competition and protection of trade secrets.

However, Samsung Display responded by saying LG must immediately halt its slander and defamation.

“We feel sorry that the prosecutors applied somewhat undue and excessive standards on conventional business practices between companies,” said Samsung Display in a statement.

“The OLED technology is already well known in the industry, and there is no reason for us to acquire it illegally. In addition, Samsung Display employees have never asked the subcontractor for a tradeoff.”

Samsung also said it is busy protecting its own technologies.

“The innocence of our employees will be revealed through a trial,” Samsung Display added.

In April 2012, the Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency booked 11 LG Display executives and Samsung Display researchers on charges of leaking OLED technologies to LG Display.

That same month, police raided LG Display headquarters in Yeouido, southwestern Seoul.

Three months later, Suwon District Court charged 11 suspects without detention, including four LG Display employees, six Samsung Display researchers and one employee at LG Display’s subcontractor on charges of leaking Samsung Display’s OLED TV technology.

In September 2012, Samsung Display filed for an injunction in Seoul District Court banning LG Display from using OLED TV technologies and related data. The same month, LG filed a damage claim and a lawsuit that prohibits Samsung from infringing on OLED-related patents.

In April 2013, Seoul Central District Court raided Samsung Display headquarters and regional offices on allegations LG Display subcontractors stole OLED technologies and turned them over to Samsung Display.

In November 2013, the court sent seven Samsung Display employees to jail for stealing the technology through four workers at LG Display subcontractors.

On Feb. 6, Suwon District Court acquitted LG Display and five of six employees. It fined an employee at LG Display for illegally acquiring competitor’s trade secrets.

Legal disputes between the two were rampant as they fought over 3D TV technologies in 2011 in England, Australia and the United States, and engaged in lawsuits over ads comparing refrigerator capacities in 2012.

Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics also are having legal disputes over LG executives’ alleged vandalizing of Samsung washing machines last year at stores in Germany.

The prosecutors’ office of the Seoul Central District Court said Feb. 8 it indicted Cho Sung-jin, CEO of LG Electronics’ home appliance unit; Cho Han-ki, managing director of LG Electronics’ washing machine research institute; and a public relations executive surnamed Chun.

BY KIM JUNG-YOON, SOHN HAE-YONG [kjy@joongang.co.kr]
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