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SK Hynix faces $1.1B NAND flash tech leak suit

22 Jul 2014  | Junko Yoshida

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South Korea's SK Hynix faces $1.1 billion suit, revealing in a regulatory filing on Monday that its Japanese rival Toshiba Corp. filed a complaint for the suspected NAND flash memory chip technology leak, Reuters reported.

In March 2014, Toshiba filed a civil suit against SK Hynix in Tokyo District Court for allegedly stealing trade secrets related to its NAND flash memory technology. Toshiba did not announce the amount of damages sought from the Korean company.

Toshiba said in a statement in March, "SK Hynix is a business partner of Toshiba. However, the companies are also competitors in NAND flash memory." Toshiba added, "Given the scope and importance of the misappropriated technical data involved, Toshiba has no reasonable option other than to seek legal redress."

The Japanese company, according to the regulatory filing, is also seeking to have SK Hynix destroy all information about the technology in question and cease production and sales of NAND memory products using that technology, according to the regulatory filing, Reuters reported.

NAND leak

Toshiba's complaint follows a similar trade secrets suit SanDisk Corporation filed against SK Hynix in March 2014. SanDisk then claimed that SK Hynix has used the trade secrets in semiconductor devices and flash memory products sold in California.

In March, SanDisk also submitted a criminal complaint with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department against a former employee.

SanDisk has charged that ex-employee Yoshitaka Sugita downloaded "a huge number of files" containing confidential information before joining SK Hynix in 2008. Sugita had been working on one of SanDisk's flash memory projects with Toshiba. The companies have been working together to develop NAND flash memory technology since the early 2000s, according to SanDisk's suit.

SanDisk claims that Sugita stole circuit designs, research analysis and other important documents. In January, an informant allegedly told the company that documents bearing the words "SanDisk/Toshiba confidential" had been distributed to SK Hynix employees.

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