Samsung’s ex-employee leaked its 18-nano DRAM tech to CXMT

Samsung DRAM

Two former Samsung employees, Mr. Kim and Mr. Bang, returned to Korea from China earlier this year. They were arrested on charges of leaking intellectual property related to Samsung’s 18-nano DRAM technologies. The accused individuals, who worked for China’s ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT), have allegedly shared crucial Samsung memory technology secrets, earning “several million dollars” in the process.

The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) reported the case and the suspects to prosecutors in May, prompting an investigation. Industry experts estimate (via Yonhap News Agency) the leaked information to worth about 2.3 trillion won ($1.8 billion). The case highlights growing concerns over chip technology leaks, with industry figures suggesting a fourfold increase in such incidents over the last five years.

Besides financial damage, the leak of Samsung’s 18-nano DRAM tech may also impact its competitive edge in the field

The NIS and prosecutors focused their initial investigations on semiconductor deposition technology. Mr. Kim, a retired Samsung employee who joined CXMT in China, reportedly shared insights and technology related to this field which is reportedly Samsung’s intellectual property. The authority only described the second person, Mr. Bang, as a “former Samsung subcontractor” and not much information about him and his contribution is known.

The leaks could potentially impact seven other Samsung semiconductor fabrication processes, prompting further investigations. Prosecutors have sought arrests for violating Korea’s Prevention and Protection of Industrial Technology Leakage Act, emphasizing the seriousness of the allegations.

Based on analysis, the alleged leak could have significant repercussions for Samsung, with approximately 40% market control. The leaked technology might not only result in substantial financial damages to Samsung but also impact the company’s competitive edge, considering the years of research and development invested in the 18-nanometer DRAM technologies. The NIS noted a considerable rise in chip technology leaks, calling for stricter penalties.

In response to the allegations, CXMT issued a statement (via Reuters) asserting its commitment to respecting intellectual property rights and maintaining robust mechanisms to prevent the inflow of third-party information from its employees. However, the company didn’t provide any more specific comments on the matter of Samsung’s intellectual property theft.

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