4 September 2020
Everlight convicted in Korea for misappropriating Seoul Semi’s trade secrets
South Korean LED maker Seoul Semiconductor Co Ltd says that the Korean Suwon District Court has convicted Taiwan-based Everlight Electronics Co Ltd of criminal misappropriation of its trade secrets. Three former employees of Seoul who left the company and went to work at Everlight were also criminally convicted of trade secret misappropriation. Everlight and the former employees are subject to criminal sentences, says Seoul Semiconductor.
Everlight was sentenced to the maximum criminal fine permitted under Korean law for the commission of such a crime. The Court also sentenced the former employees with criminal probation with the possibility of prison time.
According to Seoul Semiconductor, the criminal investigation began as a result of Everlight’s solicitation of a former engineer and sales employee from Seoul. The former employee had special knowledge of Seoul’s automotive LED technology utilizing its proprietary WICOP (wafer-level integrated chip on PCB) technology – the world’s first package-less LED – in which Seoul invested KRW560bn over seven years. The former employee used a false name while working at Everlight to escape detection, Seoul Semiconductor says. The Korea Prosecutors’ Office criminally indicted Everlight for violating the Industrial Technology Protection Act, as well as the Trade Secret Protection Act. The former employees were charged and arrested with the same violations.
Seoul says that it has achieved US$1bn of annual revenue in LED sales, and that it invests about 10% of its revenue into R&D every year and holds more than 14,000 global patent rights.
“Intellectual property is a ladder that enables small businesses and young entrepreneurs to compete with global conglomerates. It allows people to break through barriers of class and origin with rapid business growth,” says Seoul’s founder Chung Hoon Lee. “Intellectual property enables industrial revolutions. It gives us a tool to fight global poverty, facilitate culture and research activities, grow small businesses into global enterprises, and drive the national economy by creating jobs,” he adds. “We should not allow unethical companies to steal intellectual property for monetary gain.”
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