DRAM makers today build their products on intellectual property (IP) which they have acquired over decades. Chinese DRAM makers do not have this type of IP and are not willing to license it from an established DRAM maker either. It seems as if both Samsung and SK Hynix are the latest victims of large-scale industrial espionage by Chinese DRAM makers, who are stealing this IP.
“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.”