Samsung researchers sent to prison for handing over OLED technology to competing companies

According to a new report from Korea, two SDC researchers were convicted of handing over OLED technology to other companies, and are being sent to prison for two years. Representative and directors of the company that bought the technology was also sent to prison and the company was fined.

The technology in question relates to Optical Adhesive Materials used in OLED production processes. The arrest of these employees was reported in August 2020.

This is the latest in many similar cases in Korea, where Chinese companies were suspected of OLED espionage. In 2018 South Korean prosecutors indicted a group of 11 executives and employees of Korea-based Toptec, a Samsung Electronics supplier, accusing them with leaking Samsung’s flexible OLED technology to Chinese display makers (BOE and CSoT, in that case).

In June 2018 the South Korean prosecution indicted several officials that allegedly tried to sell Samsung’s OLED technology secrets to China. These officials include Korean and Chinese researchers – and also a professor at a national Korean research institution. In October 2018, it was reported that critical information regarding OLED technologies and plans has been leaked from LG Display’s headquarters – and that the company suspects espionage from Chinese-based companies.

In May 2012 employees at Israeli company Orbotech’s local Korean branch were accused of leaking OLED technology form both LGD and SDC to several Chinese and Taiwanese companies. But it’s not just Chinese companies that try to access protected OLED technology – in 2012 LGD was charged with stealing OLED secrets from Samsung Display as well.