Agreement includes penalty for breach
Samsung had sent a new confidentiality agreement to its semiconductor and component partners in July, TheElec has learned.
The agreement asks for stricter security measures for sensitive technologies and includes a financial penalty for breaching the contract, sources say.
The contract was written by Samsung’s chip business, called Device Solutions by the firm, and signed by Samsung vice chairman and co-CEO Kim Ki-nam, who heads the chip business.
It wasn’t sent to all of the South Korean tech giant’s semiconductor partners but those more heavily involved in semiconductor production steps and technology developments.
Some of the companies that received the contract include South Korean subsidiaries of global firms as well as Japanese companies. However, the contract was not sent to fab equipment makers.
There are at least two versions of the contract. One was a very standard, conventional version and another six page contract was more stringent in its requirements it asks of the partners.
In the stringent version of the contract, a copy of which was seen by TheElec, Samsung requires some of its partners to exclude employees, who previously worked at Samsung’s competitors, from given work that allows for access to Samsung’s confidential information.
If a former employee of a partner moves to one of Samsung’s competitor within a year after quitting, the South Korean tech giant asked the partner to notify them of the move.
Breach of these clauses require the partner to pay Samsung a minimum of 100 million won (around US$85,000) in penalty.
People working at partner firms of Samsung said though there were times when the tech giant would limit its own employees moving to a competitor, it was unusual that they would ask their partners to do the same.
Some have complained to Samsung that the contract was too stringent, they said.
Samsung’s recent move may be related to the recent controversy surrounding one its previous partner Mujin Electronics, the people said.
Mujin allegedly tried to leak core technologies owned by Semes, a fab equipment maker owned by Samsung, to a Chinese rival, according to local prosecutors earlier this year.
Samsung had a falling out with Mujin since then and ended its semiconductor distribution contract in June with the company.
Despite the tougher requirements, most South Korean and Japanese partners of Samsung has signed the new contract, the people said. Companies from other countries are yet to sign the contract.