Monday, May 21, 2007

Another theft, this time POSCO and WiBro

Korea's Prosecutors Office again busts a major trade secret theft. This time its at Posdata, the IT and telecom arm of Korean steel giant POSCO. To borrow from articles at the Dong-A Ilbo and Korea Times, you can piece together the story:

The prosecutors believes that three former engineers at Posdata's U.S. R&D center, including the director of the R&D center, were involved in selling the technology. The prosecution is summoning them to Korea in collaboration with U.S. authorities.

After establishing an Internet tech company, identified as [InQuadron], in the U.S. in December, Kim was fired by Posdata in March. Posdata researchers who were close to Kim then allegedly stole core WiBro technologies from Posdata by using external hard discs and e-mail starting last October to March. They then left Posdata to work for the Korea branch of [InQuadron in Bundang].

"They tried to entice 20 or more Posdata workers to steal all the source technology of WiBro. Then, they hoped to earn 180 billion won by selling InQuadron to a U.S. telecom firm,''[Prosecutor] Lee said.

However, they failed to take the stolen technology to the InQuadron head office in Silicon Valley, Lee said. The prosecution has already indicted four suspects and is seeks to prosecute three more. 

One thing I cannot understand is why Posdata did not get the prosecutors involved in the original theft that lead to Kim's firing. Another thing is the valuations of the data. Posdata says the data was potentially worth about USD 14 Billion, given the researchers was only selling it for a bit more than one percent of that.


Apparently the Korean papers are a little late to this party. This site notes that Postdata filed suit against InQuadron and a Kim SeYoung on May 10th. Apparently Kim was working with Posdata as late as 2005 based on this IEEE committee meeting. Also correct me if I am wrong, but isn't "Seyoung" a female Korean name? Anyway, perhaps I should not go further given Korean internet/privacy laws about posting public information.


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