TSMC sues former ex-employee over leaking trade secrets to Samsung

“Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest chip foundry, is suing a former R&D employee on the suspicion that he leaked secrets including but not limited to 28 nm process technology to Samsung,” Alan Patterson reports for EETimes. “South Korea’s largest company is a growing competitor in the foundry business. ‘We brought the lawsuit because TSMC Chairman Morris Chang and senior management were convinced we needed to send a message to Samsung, employees and other competitors,’ Dick Thurston, former chief counsel for TSMC, told EE Times. ‘The initial technology they focused on was 28 nm.'”

“The suspected leak of technology may have helped Samsung catch up with TSMC in leading-edge 14 nm FinFET chips that foundry customers such as Qualcomm and Apple are designing for next-generation mobile devices,” Patterson reports. “When TSMC launched its 28 nm products in 2012, the company went unchallenged in that technology node for nearly two years. Any advantage Samsung may have gained over TSMC is very short term, according to Thurston.”

“The legal dispute has focused on Liang Mong-song, a former senior director of R&D at TSMC’s Advanced Modules Technology Division. More recently, Liang was Samsung’s System LSI division chief technology officer for three and a half years, according to a report by Taiwan’s Commonwealth magazine,” Patterson reports. “TSMC may have decided not to sue Samsung owing to the South Korean chaebol’s size, according to the Commonwealth article… Liang was working for Samsung-affiliated Sungkyunkwan University as a professor while he was leaking secrets to Samsung, according to the Commonwealth article.”

Read more in the full article here.

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