Nine people face charges for allegedly selling Samsung's curved-edge display technology, Reuters reports. That company then sold the tech secrets to the Chinese firms for almost $14 million, according to the prosecutors.
Prosecutors assert it took Samsung six years, 38 engineers, and 150 billion won (US$134 million) to develop the high-value intellectual property.
According to Bloomberg, the South Korean supplier transferred 3D lamination technology and other equipment to the Chinese company between May and August, violating a non-disclosure agreement with Samsung Display.
Two others who were also allegedly complicit in leaking the technology, but worked for a separate Chinese company, were not indicted. This curved OLED edge panel technology is now found on the Galaxy Note 9, and it is bound to come to the Galaxy S10 models early next year.
"We have been working with Samsung Display for the past 26 years and exported its pressing tech for curved displays to China in March this year after notifying the firm", said Toptec CEO Lee Jae-won.
South Korea charges 9 people with selling Samsung secrets to China
Theydid not name the people or companies involved in the theft.
Every new Android flagship from Samsung released over the last half a decade pushed the boundaries of mobile display technologies and even when its designs were outdone, they were usually temporarily surpassed by panels which it still manufactured for another party, which is what happened previous year with the Super AMOLED module of Apple's iPhone X. Curved-edge displays are still a rarity in the smartphone industry outside of Samsung's portfolio and the only other major original equipment manufacturer that commercialized them so far is Huawei with its Mate series of high-end Android phablets. Still, the technology leakage that already occurred is likely to have a significant negative impact on South Korea's display industry.
Samsung Display responded to the news, saying that it's "shocked at the results of the investigation by prosecutors, at a time when competitors are intensifying their technological rivalry". "Our company will fully cooperate with legal proceedings to find the truth in court." said Toptec which is the company that is accused of stealing the secrets.More news: James Comey To Testify Before House Judiciary Committee
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