Samsung’s foldable display technology leaked for $13.85 million to Chinese entity

“Samsung Display has made heavy investments of time and money for this technology, and will hope that the entire novelty of its technology has not been compromised.”

A Reuters report published yesterday states that South Korean authorities have charged nine people belonging to a particular organisation, for leaking sensitive information of Samsung’s foldable display technology to an unnamed Chinese entity. The accused individuals are the CEO and eight employees of supplier firm Toptec Co. Ltd., which sources automated manufacturing equipment of mobile displays to multiple companies, including Samsung.

The report states that Toptec created a shell company, which then received crucial information regarding equipment usage and sketches that are used by Samsung Display, a Samsung Electronics subsidiary that manufactures display panels for Samsung Mobile and other OEMs. This information has then been sold to an unnamed Chinese entity, in an estimated $13.85 million exchange. Whether the company has indeed been guilty of this transgression or not remains unclear, but Toptec’s shares have already tumbled by 20 percent since news regarding this broke out.

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Toptec said in a statement, “Our company has never provided Samsung Display’s industrial technology or business secrets to a Chinese client. Our company will fully cooperate with legal proceedings to find the truth in court.” The company has been charged by the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office in South Korea, which will seek to obtain heavy penalties if the guilt is indeed proven. A Samsung Display spokesperson has dubbed the incident as “regrettable”, with the company having reportedly invested close to $150 million in the development of the leaked foldable display technology.

Foldable displays are expected to be among the key innovations pertaining to smartphones and compact, portable gadgets in 2019. Samsung, a global heavyweight in the smartphone market, is one of the OEMs that have invested heavily in building their own technology of foldable OLED display panels. The company has been at it for quite a few years, since the first-ever rumour pertaining to this actually surfaced over three years ago. Now, the company is all set to launch its very first flexible smartphone, called the Samsung Galaxy Flex.

Reports on the internet have stated that the Galaxy Flex may cost as much as £2,000. LG, too, has received patent for a particular flexible display mechanism, and it too may call its device ‘Flex’. Huawei is also among the companies building flexible display smartphones, and this Chinese electronics giant has even stated that its foldable phone will also be 5G-ready. It remains to be seen how this technology spreads out in the long run, and if it can indeed become affordable in the mainstream sense. Samsung, meanwhile, will hope that this breach of information would not have totally compromised its safely guarded developments, and it will still bear the novelty of a segment-first technology.

A lover of anything that has a circuit and involves physics, Shouvik is passionate about technology, science and journalism in equal parts. When not at work, he prefers reading up on ancient history, sports and engineering, going on random photography expeditions, and occasionally a long solo drive. He's also neck-deep into science fiction, and is working on a debut novel that he hopes will one day be read by Steven Erikson.
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