Samsung’s Key OLED Tech Leaked to China

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge - edge view

Nine people and two companies have been indicted by prosecutors in South Korea for stealing and selling Samsung’s curved OLED display technology to a Chinese company. The nine employees had received almost $14 million for stealing and selling the intellectual property.

The persons indicted include the CEO and eight employees of Toptec Co, a supplier of Samsung. The accused had formed a shell company that received key information and drawings from Samsung Display related to its curved OLED display and 3D lamination. The accused were caught while they were transferring additional pieces of machinery for 3D lamination and other equipment to a ship for mainland China.

Toptec has denied allegations of any wrongdoings.

“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,” Toptec said in a statement.

Samsung Display on its part says that it is “shocked at the results of the investigation by prosecutors.” It took the company over six years, a team of 38 engineers, and an investment of 150 billion won to develop this technology which is designated as a national core technology and protected under South Korea’s industrial technology protection laws.

The name of the Chinese company which paid the accused for stealing the technology and received classified information is not yet known.

Our Take

Samsung Display is currently the leader in curved OLED technology. It dominates the industry with over 95 percent of the market share, with its curved OLED panels being used across its flagship Galaxy S and Note flagships since the last few years. The company even supplies OLED panels to Apple which are used on the iPhone X, iPhone XS, and XS Max. While there are other OLED OEMs like LG Display, none of them are able to produce quality panels on a scale like Samsung.

[Via Bloomberg]