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Posted : 2010-07-17 21:37
Updated : 2010-07-17 21:37

Samsung, LG in legal fight over brain drain

South Korea’s two electronics giants are in a state of legal warfare over the defection of top employees to the rival company, Hankook Kyungje Shinmun newspaper said on Saturday.

According to the report, Samsung sued a former employee, identified as Kim, for violation of the company's work terms.

Kim quit Samsung last March and now works for LG.

Samsung said Kim violated the term of his employment which bans him from working for a rival company for two years after he leaves the current company, demanding a 10-million-won-a-day penalty from Kim.

LG countered Samsung’s argument, saying, “He voluntarily quit and voluntarily chose to work for us and we would do our best to protect Kim’s rights,” according to the newspaper.

Kim was a key engineer at Samsung, involved in the development of the “Super Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode” or “Super AMOLED,” a display technology for use in mobile devices. Samsung uses the technology in its ambitious new mobile set, Galaxy S, which Samsung released to compete with iPhone.

Compared with LCD, AMOLED is faster in response and boasts better display.

Samsung leads the worldwide AMOLED market, taking 98 percent of the share, while LG is still in the process of developing the technology, according to the report.

This is not the first time for South Korea’s two high-tech giants to engage in blame game for brain drain. In March, an LG employee who was an expert in biotechnology moved to Samsung. But he had to quit his new job when LG sued him for violation of the similar employment terms that bans him from working for a rival company, it said.

Another local newspaper, Chosun, carried the report. And a reader, Choi Deok-sun, said companies should give its employees the freedom to choose their new jobs, adding the two-year ban that companies impose on its employees not to work for a similar company that competes in the same field is unfair.

“It takes as many as 10 to 20 years for an engineer to become an expert in a field. And when they change their job, they naturally consider moving to a company where they can use their expertise. Unless the employee leaks industrial secret, he should be free to work for any company that offers better work conditions,” he said.

He also said that the time-old rule in the industry discourages people in the nation from becoming engineers.
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