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Samsung Display Researcher Arrested for Illegally Sharing Trade Secrets with China’s OLED Industry

A Samsung Display employee has been arrested in South Korea on charges of industrial espionage in favor of the Chinese OLED panel industry. The person allegedly transferred knowledge worth up to $300 million to their own company and then to China, reports The Elec, citing local prosecutors.

The 49-year-old worked for 10 years in Samsung Display’s OLED production equipment department, the one responsible for its breakthrough manufacturing methods that have allowed it to stay ahead of the curve with each passing OLED generation.

So much so that Apple recently had to resort to Samsung’s iPhone panels again after the other OLED display companies it is constantly trying to diversify its supply chain with fell flat with yield and quality.

After the researcher transferred novel OLED display technology like excimer laser annealing equipment or a means to optically clean resin inkjet machinery between 2018 to May 2020, they left Samsung and went to work for an OLED panel maker in China.

Chinese phones have been making strides in their display quality and innovation in the recent years to the point where they are first to market with per-unit factory display calibration or even teardrop foldable phone hinges that nearly remove the inner crease of the main panel.

That’s not to mention their early adoption of the LTPO OLED display technology which saw them introduce dynamic refresh rates and ultrabright panels ahead of everybody else, even Samsung.

In any case, Samsung’s former employee has voluntarily returned to South Korea from China in order to face the industrial espionage charges. The person was actually a member of a leaky team of researchers who worked for Samsung and participated in transferring the OLED display production secrets to a company in South Korea and to China.

They have already been tried and sentenced, while he fled to China and the prosecutors started their investigation into his deeds after being tipped off by the Korean intelligence agency.

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