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Korea’s top court acquit Samsung Display over LG OLED technology theft

A chief executive of LG Display Co. supplier and four Samsung Display Co. employees have been freed from the alleged organic light emitting diode (OLED) technology leak from LG Display, ending seven years of the legal battle between South Korea’s two major tech companies.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the original ruling that acquitted charges and dismissed prosecutor appeal on the chief executive of LG Display subcontractor suspected of violating the country’s trade secret protection law and prevention of unfair competition law.

The employee from LG Display’s partner firm is suspected of handing over LG Display’s OLED Face Seal technology and related confidential documents to Samsung Display employees over three to four times in 2010. Face Seal is a sealing and bonding technology that extends display life span by preventing air contact of OLED element.

The four Samsung Display employees that have allegedly received documents from the rival’s supplier were also indicted on charges of stealing confidential business information.

The legal issue was whether the leaked documents were trade secrets. In the first trial, the court judged them as trade secrets considering that part of the documents was managed as secret information.

The LG Display subcontractor’s chief received five months of imprisonment and one year suspended sentence while the four Samsung Display employees received four to six months of imprisonment and one to two years suspended sentence.

In the second trial, however, the suspects were all acquitted of charges as the documents contained information that had already been widely known in the industry through papers and releases by Japanese peers. The court also noted that the technology developed exclusively by the LG Display supplier has been mixed with jointly development technology information with LG Display and is hard to distinguish.

When it comes to Samsung Display employees, the court ruled that it isn’t clear that they tried to pull up confidential secret and that they could have been part of normal work to purchase facilities.

The top court that took more than four years of trial after accepting the case upheld the original ruling.

Samsung and LG had been in another legal battle before over OLED technology. In 2019, the court convicted a former Samsung Display researcher for siphoning off the company’s OLED technology and also LG Display employees that received them.

At the time, the top court upheld the original ruling that gave eight months of imprisonment and two years of suspended sentence to the former Samsung Display researcher indicted on charges of violating industrial technology outflow prevention and protection law. LG Display employees and an executive of a supplier also received 5 million won ($3,877) penalty.

LG Display and Samsung Display, meanwhile, did not release any statements on the latest ruling. Pulse News

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