In Hankyoreh LG and Samsung to run in separate court cases
Executives from LG and Samsung will soon be on trial, facing charges of damaging their competitor’s products and leaking trade secrets.
Three executives from LG Electronics were accused of in connection with a scandal about damaged washing machines that occurred last year in Germany. Executives from Samsung Display were accused for unlawful acquiring information related to LG Display’s organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology through LG’s subcontractors.
Criminal division no. 4 at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, directed by Lee Ju-hyeong, announced on Feb. 15 that it had booked without confinement three executives at LG Electronics: Jo Seong-jin, president of the home appliances business division; Cho Han-jin, who is in charge of washing machine development; and a senior executive named Jeon, who is in charge of public relations.
Jo and Cho are being charged with damaging property. In Sep. 2014, they allegedly damaged the door hinges on three Samsung washing machines that were on display at the home appliances section at an exposition in Berlin.
The prosecutors said that when they reviewed footage from security cameras in the area, they found that the two executives deliberately warped the washing machine doors by pushing down on them with their whole body weight.
The prosecutors also charged Jeon with defamation, concluding that LG Electronics representatives made false claims while they were disputing Samsung Electronics’ interpretation of the facts. In material distributed to the media, LG Electronics claimed that it had just been testing its competitors’ products and that only the products of a certain competitor – namely, Samsung Electronics – had been damaged.
In connection with the investigation, LG Electronics had asked the prosecutors to charge executives at Samsung Electronics with defamation, but the prosecutors declined to do so.
Since LG Electronics is unwilling to accept the results of the investigation, the dispute is expected to continue in the courtroom.
“It is doubtful whether there is enough evidence to satisfy the court that the president of a global company deliberately tried to damage a rival company’s product while that company’s employees were watching. German prosecutors have already decided not to press charges in the case,” said Ham Yun-geun, Jo’s lawyer.
On Feb. 13, Samsung executives were also indicted on charges of violating the Unfair Competition Prevention and Trade Secret Protection Act. The special investigation division of the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office, directed by Kim Yeong-ik, booked without detention an individual surnamed No and three other executives at Samsung Display, along with an individual surnamed Yoon, president of a subcontractor for LG Display.
The Samsung executives are alleged to have visited the subcontractor three or four times between May and June 2010 and received technical information including trade secrets at LG Display from Yun, president of that company.
The technology in question, called face seal, increases the lifespan of a display by preventing air from coming into contact with the OLED element. Samsung uses a different technology to achieve the same effect.
When asked about the case, a spokesperson for LG Display expressed hope that other companies would refrain from illegally acquiring their competitors’ technology and would instead engage in friendly competition.”
“Our unrivaled technological expertise – which enabled us to become the first company in the world to develop organic light-emitting diodes in 2007 – has made us market leaders. There’s no reason for us to go snooping at other company’s technology. Our innocence will be confirmed in court,” said Samsung Display.