It’s not just Micron, but also Korean DRAM giants Samsung and SK Hynix, that are the latest victims of large-scale industrial espionage by Chinese DRAM makers to steal vital DRAM intellectual property (IP), according to Korea Times. Today’s DRAM makers build their products on IP acquired over decades, and that is time Chinese companies do not have, and aren’t willing to license from established DRAM makers, either.
“Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix have become the target of industrial espionage by Chinese memory chip manufacturers. In semiconductors, patents are critical to the cost structure. The companies have to protect what they have spent decades building. The result is Chinese companies are attempting to infringe on Samsung and SK patents,” said a Korean official involved in the investigation of IP theft.
“Without intellectual property, you can’t become a meaningful player. You need brand-new technology and you have to have capability for large-scale production. Also, you should be qualified for product specifications and designs and to meet demanding customer application requests. All of these can be done with intellectual property that has been built over the course of decades. Chinese companies aren’t ready for this,” said a Samsung engineer. “Chinese companies are finding the development of DRAM and flash-memory manufacturing processes is more difficult to than they thought.”
Both Korean companies are closely following the ongoing legal battle between Micron Technology and Fujian Jin Hua IC, in Chinese courts; where the American company is faring badly in counter-lawsuits. Fujian Jin Hua IC is alleged to have used Taiwanese semiconductor foundry UMC to steal Micron’s IP, whereas a counter-suit by UMC seems to have won in Chinese courts, with Micron staring at a market-access denial by China, in the backdrop of one of the biggest trade-wars between China and the United States, ever. Source: Korea Times