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Samsung Display requests import restrictions on BOE from China by the U.S. ITC

Samsung Display, the largest supplier of display panels to the smartphone industry, has filed a complaint against Chinese competitor BOE Technology Group with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). Samsung Display is accusing BOE of stealing its trade secrets. Samsung Display confirmed that it filed the complaint against BOE, the first time that Samsung Display has leveled such charges against BOE.

An ITC document obtained and shared by Reuters shows that the complaint, known as Certain Organic Light-Emitting Diode Display Modules and Components Thereof, DN 3704, was filed by Samsung Display on October 31st. The document states that BOE violated U.S. law and resorted to “unfair methods of competition” by infringing on Samsung Display’s intellectual property including trade secrets. Samsung Display says that BOE’s illegal actions were related to organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display modules and components.

Due to a shortage of display driver ICs, BOE decided unilaterally to increase the circuit width of thin-film transistors used in the panels and as you might expect, Apple does not like it when a supplier quietly deviates from its specs. Additionally, the unapproved workaround that BOE tried to sneak past Apple might have something to do with Samsung Display possibly notifying Apple that BOE was infringing on its pixel structure and touch electrode OLED patents.
BOE was supposed to rejoin Samsung Display and LG Display this year and supply OLED panels for the iPhone 15 series. But the company had issues with cutouts for the FaceTime camera and sensors for FaceID and Apple ended up canceling the orders for panels that it gave to BOE and turned those orders over to Samsung Display. BOE has said that it is trying to get Samsung’s patents declared invalid.

As for Samsung’s legal filing, South Korea in general has been looking to crack down on technology leaks, and analysts in the country say that the majority of these leaks are ending up in China. A document related to the filing says that “Samsung’s complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1337) in the importation into the United States, the sale for importation, and the sale within the United States after importation of certain organic light-emitting diode display modules and components thereof.”

Samsung accuses several BOE subsidiaries in the complaint including BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd. of China; Mianyang BOE Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. of China; Ordos Yuansheng Optoelectronics Co., Ltd. of China; Chengdu BOE Optoeletronics Technology Co., Ltd. of China; Chongqing BOE Optoelectronics Technology Co., Ltd. of China; Wuhan BOE Optoeletronics Technology Co., Ltd. of China; BMOT f/k/a Kunming BOE Display Technology of China; and BOE Technology America Inc. of China.

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