Thursday, July 21, 2005

Who Me? Thats the SES Anthology!

Seven former Hynix employees have been indicted for stealing company secrets to set up a Chip fab plant in China called LMNT. Apparently alarms were raised when they announced they were raising money for a US$1.4 Billion chip fab plant but could not tell anybody exactly what type of flash memory chips they would be making, nor whose technology they were licensing. All they could offer was a nebulous group of American, European, and Japanese experts.


The story starts as some Hynix exec named Kim retires, and sets up LMNT in tax friendly Cayman Islands. They he contacted six friends at Hynix who stole 15 CDs worth of core technology worth around US$600 million, quit and went to work for Kim.


Two things come to mind in this case:


1.       I seriously doubt the theft totaled US$600 million in intellectual property. The reporters figure is likely based on the Hynix's balance sheet line Intangible Assets, this covers a wide range of things other than patents plus what ever patents they did not steal. Also for that matter, given Hynix is the perennial sick man of the Semiconductor Industry, receives government subsidies, and is involved in wide range of patent litigation, who knew that had that much worth stealing.

2.       Thumbs down to the Dong-A Ilbo. The EE Times story I liked to gave the Dong-A as the source, yet the story is not on the English website that I can find. Once again, if you want real news in Korea, you ironically should not read Korean English Language publications.