Lighting Industry

Jailed: Lighting scientist who revealed LED secrets

Seoul Semiconductor's glass office headquarters in Korea
Kim researched LED technology at Seoul Semiconductor’s laboratory in Ansan, just outside Korea’s capital Seoul

A 40-YEAR-OLD research scientist who passed on industrial secrets about how LEDs are made has been jailed for eight months.

Mr Kim, a research and development technologist at leading LED manufacturer Seoul Semiconductor, will also have to perform 120 hours of community service and remain under probation for two years. 

Kim – who quit his job at Seoul Semiconductor’s laboratory in Ansan, just outside Korea’s capital Seoul, in December 2014  –  was charged under the country’s ‘Act on Prevention of Divulgence and Protection of Industrial Technology’.

Passing sentence, judges told the Incheon Criminal District Court: ‘Kim was in charge of technology development at the Seoul Semiconductor’s Process Technology Team at the time, and used LED package technology illegally obtained from Seoul Semiconductor to do a research project with [a] supplier of Seoul Semiconductor. 

‘This violated the Act on Prevention of Divulgence and Protection of Industrial Technology and Kim was convicted’.

Seoul Semiconductor is the world’s second-largest global LED manufacturer, a ranking excluding the captive market, and the only Korean LED company to sell US$1 billion worth of equipment. 

The company has invested around 10 per cent of its sales revenue each year in research and development. and boasts more than 14,000 patents. 

Seoul Semiconductor has won 32 patent infringement lawsuits filed in seven countries including US, Europe, China and Japan over two years in order to actions against companies that it suspects of infringing its patents or of obtaining unlawful access to its trade secrets from past and current employees. 

‘If the industry doesn’t respect patented technology, young entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized enterprises cannot have the growth opportunity, and they consider relocating manufacturing plant abroad due to low labour cost and operational costs’, said the company in a prepared statement.

‘Regardless of company or individual, this is a meaningful example of showing that anyone who obtains or divulges illegal industrial technology is subject to law’.