Toshiba and SanDisk have jointly filed suit against memory manufacturing rival SK Hynix, claiming the company stole proprietary information regarding the NAND flash memory design which it has been profiting from since 2008.
In the suit, filed at the Tokyo District Court under Japan's Unfair Competition Prevention Act, the companies allege that when an unnamed employee left SanDisk's employ in 2008 to work for SK Hynix, the engineer took proprietary technical information along for the ride - giving his new employer a significant leg up at the expense of its competition.
The information is claimed to relate to the manufacturing of NAND flash memory, developed during a 15-year-strong partnership between Toshiba and SanDisk. Its allegedly improper acquisition by SK Hynix is also the subject of a criminal complaint, filed with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department against the former SanDisk staffer alleged to have leaked the data.
'SanDisk strongly believes in the value of IP, and takes protecting trade secrets seriously,' claimed Judy Bruner, executive vice president, administration, and chief financial officer at SanDisk of the suit and criminal filing. 'We are working diligently with the authorities as well as our partner on these matters and are aggressively pursuing all legal remedies available to us.'
SK Hynix is a business partner of Toshiba, but that hasn't stopped SanDisk's ally coming to its aid with the joint filing. 'The companies [Toshiba and SK Hynix] are also competitors in NAND flash memory, one of Toshiba’s core technologies,' claimed a Toshiba spokesperson of the move, 'and given the scope and importance of the misappropriated technical data involved, Toshiba has no reasonable option other than to seek legal redress.'
SK Hynix has not yet commented on the filing.