The world's top manufacturers of computer memory chips are embroiled in a case of industrial espionage, with 18 people having been indicted over alleged technology theft.
Korean prosecutors today said those involved, including employees of US company Allied Materials and its South Korean unit, are under investigation for having leaked semiconductor technology belonging to South Korea's Samsung Co to its domestic rival Hynix Semiconductor Inc.
According to industry sources, the case highlights the intense competition among chipmakers and other sellers of high tech products, who frequently engage in litigation over alleged patent infringements.
Samsung and Hynix are leading producers of dynamic random access memory, or DRAM chips, used mostly in personal computers. Samsung is also the world's biggest manufacturer of NAND flash chips, used in digital devices including cameras, music players and smartphones.
Hynix comes in at No3 behind Samsung and Japan's Toshiba Corp.
According to Kim Yeong-cheol, a prosecutor handling the case, 18 people had been indicted yesterday, though 14 were not physically detained ahead of the trial.