Samsung and LG Electronics have suffered a blow in protecting their proprietary AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) and white OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technologies, after employees from an Israeli inspection equipment supplier were alleged to have stolen information and sent it to rival Chinese manufacturers via its company headquarters.
According to a report by Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' office arrested three employees at the local unit of the unnamed Israeli company on charges of leaking key technologies relating to AMOLED and white OLED displays. Three other workers were also linked to the leak, it added.
The prosecutors said the employees involved photographed circuit diagrams of to-be-released 55-inch AMOLED television panels when they were allowed into Samsung and LG's manufacturing plants to inspect for equipment defects from November 2011 to January 2012. They then stored these images on portable memory cards and hid them in their shoes, belts and wallets to avoid suspicion, they added.
The stolen information was likely relayed to the Israeli headquarters and subsequently to Chinese and Taiwanese display makers, including Chinese panel manufacturer BOE Technology, the prosecutors stated.
"This may expectedly deal a massive economic blow to the entire nation and can cause a sea change in the landscape of the global display market," one prosecutor told the Korean news agency.
The District Prosecutors' office has pledged to probe the Israeli headquarters to prevent further leaks of the technologies, the report added.
Yonhap News Agency noted that Samsung and LG are leading makers of AMOLED displays, which has a market value estimated to be worth 90 trillion won (US$77.8 billion). South Korea is stringent on technology leakages as it considers such intellectual property as the nation's core industrial strength, it added.