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.