Supreme Court de­lays for­mer TSMC worker’s move to Sam­sung


The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a for­mer se­nior di­rec­tor at Tai­wan Semi­con­duc­tor Man­u­fac­tur­ing Com­pany (TSMC,

) can­not work for ri­val com­pany Sam­sung in any way be­fore the end of this year, over con­cerns about re­veal­ing trade se­crets to the com­peti­tor.

Pre­vi­ously, in a lower court, a judg­ment was is­sued against TSMC, stat­ing that for­bid­ding Liang Mong-song ( ) from hold­ing of­fices in other com­pa­nies vi­o­lates his right to work. In a later ap­peal, Liang was banned from work­ing for Sam­sung be­fore the end of this year, which the Supreme Court yesterday let stand.

The Supreme Court ex­plained that if he con­tin­ued to work for Sam­sung dur­ing this time, the mar­ket com­pet­i­tive­ness ad­van­tages of TSMC will se­verely be im­paired, which will af­fect the semi­con­duc­tor foundry in­dus­try in Tai­wan.

Liang’s lawyer Welling­ton Ku ( ) stated that they will make a state­ment af­ter re­ceiv­ing the writ­ten judg­ment.

Liang, as a di­rec­tor of re­search and de­vel­op­ment, par­tic­i­pated in TSMC’s ad­vanced man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nol­ogy pro­cesses. Af­ter 17 years with the com­pany, Liang left in 2009. He then taught at Na­tional Ts­ing Hua Univer­sity ( ) for half a year, be­fore go­ing to on to teach at Sungkyunkwan Univer­sity ( ) in South Korea.

How­ever, since Sam­sung is part of a con­sor­tium at the univer­sity, TSMC of­fi­cials sus­pected that Liang ac­tu­ally went to work for their com­peti­tor and ac­cused him of pro­vid­ing Sam­sung with TSMC’s trade se­crets, af­ter he of­fi­cially started work­ing for Sam­sung in 2011.

TSMC stated that ac­cord­ing to a com­par­i­son re­port con­ducted by spe­cial­ists, the dif­fer­ences in nanome­ter tech­nol­ogy be­tween Sam­sung and TSMC have rapidly de­creased over the years. The 16 nm and 14 nm FinFET prod­ucts pro­duced in mas­sive quan­ti­ties by both com­pa­nies this year were very sim­i­lar. “Sim­ply by an­a­lyz­ing the struc­ture, it is hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate which was made by Sam­sung or TSMC,” the re­port said.

Le­gal ex­perts point out that this fi­nal judg­ment is a first in the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try and in ju­di­cial cir­cles. Tai­wan courts have never re­stricted se­nior man­agers of en­ter­prises from work­ing for com­peti­tors, even af­ter the end of their non-com­pe­ti­tion clause’s ex­piry.

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