Samsung Fights Back Against Beijing's Tech Theft, Sues Chinese Firm BOE Over Patent Infringement

Amid escalating tension between South Korea and China, Samsung has drawn attention by pulling out of the Shanghai Mobile World Congress for the first time in six years and initiating its maiden patent lawsuit against Chinese company BOE. The moves come in the wake of repeated allegations of technology theft by China against Samsung’s technology.

samsung fights back against beijings tech theft sues chinese firm boe over patent infringement
A woman walks past a new flagship store of Samsung Electronics at the Gangnam district in Seoul on June 28, 2023. (Jung Yeon-je / AFP via Getty Images)

Samsung Display took a decisive step on June 26, instigating a patent infringement lawsuit against BOE Technology Group Co., Ltd. (BOE), China’s premier display company. The lawsuit, filed in the Eastern District Court of Texas, asserts that BOE had unlawfully appropriated four of Samsung’s patented organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display technologies that it uses in the iPhone 12.

This legal action marks Samsung’s first patent lawsuit against BOE after it repeated warnings against unauthorized appropriation of Samsung’s technology.

BOE is a public company with its headquarters in Beijing’s Yizhuang Economic and Technological Development Zone, and its business empire spans displays, sensors, smart systems, and health services.

In the lawsuit, Samsung Display articulated its grievance, stating that BOE has infringed upon the company’s patent rights by selling panels identical to those that Samsung Display has utilized for the iPhone 12 in the U.S. market.

This litigation extends the ongoing legal feud between Samsung Display and BOE that surfaced last year.

In May 2022, Samsung Display issued a notice of patent infringement to BOE, followed by a complaint with the International Trade Commission (ITC) against 17 U.S. component wholesalers in December of that same year.

Samsung sought to ban the use of counterfeit components and display panels allegedly based on its sophisticated OLED patents, including one on its “Diamond Pixel” technology.

The move was triggered by U.S. smartphone repair shops using both genuine Samsung Display panels and counterfeit Chinese products when replacing iPhone 12 OLED display panels. It requested the U.S. tribunal ban 17 U.S. smartphone parts wholesalers from importing such parts and panels that allegedly use its patented technology into the United States.

Confronted with this unfavorable situation, BOE retaliated in May this year by filing a counterclaim against Samsung Display’s and Samsung Electronics’ Chinese legal entity. The lawsuit, filed with a court in Chongqing, China, accused Samsung Display of plagiarizing its OLED display panel technology.

South Korean public opinion suggests that Samsung Display, having grown weary of the CCP’s alleged acts of thievery, decided to retaliate with a countersuit.

samsung fights back against beijings tech theft sues chinese firm boe over patent infringement
A woman looks at accessories of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 displayed on a wall during a media preview event for a new flagship store of Samsung Electronics at the Gangnam district in Seoul on June 28, 2023. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

Grappling With Significant Losses Due to China’s Brazen Technology Theft

Beijing’s alleged global technology theft operation wreaks havoc worldwide, with South Korea, an electronics industry powerhouse, bearing the brunt of its onslaught. Samsung Electronics, a global leader in semiconductors and OLED display panels, struggles to protect its technology.

A recent large-scale technology theft by Beijing, revealed to be of significant detriment to South Korea, exemplifies the severity of the situation.

In mid-June, South Korea’s Suwon District Prosecutor’s Office filed a lawsuit against a former Samsung Electronics executive surnamed Choi for allegedly stealing design data from a Samsung Electronics semiconductor factory and attempting to build a replica factory in China.

Choi, 65, a South Korean tech industry veteran, reportedly received approximately $360 million from the Chengdu government to establish a semiconductor company in China, recruiting over 200 key personnel from Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.

Choi was once lauded with titles for his innovation, hands-on approach, and round-the-clock dedication. However, this time, the government that honored him as a national tech hero is accusing him of industrial espionage on a grand scale.

Prosecutors described the defendant in a statement as an “undisputed top domestic expert in semiconductor manufacturing.”

“The data, which Samsung Electronics obtained through more than 30 years of research and development, is worth 300 billion to trillions of won (about $200 million to billions). It is not only a company’s trade secret but also a national core technology,” prosecutors said.

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Authored by Lisa Bian And Sean Tseng via The Epoch Times July 12th 2023