Employees of Toptec were found not guilty by a court on allegations that they have leaked technology of Samsung Display to China.
The Suwon District Court found all 11 employees, including company CEO Bang In-bok, to be not guilty.
They were indicted in 2018 by prosecutors for allegedly leaking technologies related to 3D laminators for organic light emitting diode (OLED) panels that they have been supplying to Samsung Display to China.
The technologies were considered core national technologies. Prosecutors in 2018 charged employees of Toptec with violating the national technology protection, anti-trust and trade secrete protection laws. Bang and two others were jailed pending trial.
But the court in Suwon, in its verdict, said Toptec’s 3D laminator technology that it has exported to China shouldn’t be categorized as national core technologies. Prosecutors have argued that the technology was core to Samsung Display’s curved panel production, in which the company spent six years, 38 engineers and 150 billion won to develop.
The court also said some of the things Samsung Display alleged were trade secrets were information that a customer must give to equipment makers, making them hard be perceived as trade secrets.
Toptec had argued that laminator technology was widely commercialized and is not a trade secret. The company also said it developed the technologies related to the machines on its own.
CEO Bang, after the verdict was finished, came down to the first floor of the court to meet employees for greetings. Some of the employees cried.
Laminators are used to curve the OLED panels during production. The equipment were manufactured by Toptech but planning, design and structure were either given by Samsung or co-developed.
In 2017, Toptec posted 1.13 trillion won in sales and 211.7 billion won in operating income, its highest ever. But in 2018, after its business dealings with Samsung Display ended, its sales decreased to 308.7 billion won in sales and 8.2 billion won in operating income. Things got worst in 2019 when it posted 167.1 billion won in sales and 6.5 billion won in operating loss. But it bounced back in 2020, posted accumulated sales and operating income of 270.6 billion won and 45.8 billion won, respectively, up to the third quarter.