Intellectual Property Law Knowledge Center

SK Hynix Sued by SanDisk and Toshiba, Employee Arrested in Japan for Theft of Trade Secrets

March 17th, 2014

By John D. Simmons, Esq.

A large dispute is brewing in both Asia and the United States over the alleged actions of a former employee of flash memory manufacturer SanDisk. On March 13, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department arrested Yoshitaka Sugita over actions he took while employed at SanDisk in 2007 and 2008.

SanDisk has long enjoyed a lucrative partnership with Toshiba Corp. The two Japanese companies have worked together for years in joint ventures to develop flash memory. It is alleged that while employed by SanDisk on one of these projects, Mr. Sugita accessed and copied a number of Toshiba’s trade secrets regarding its NAND flash memory technology. He then allegedly took this information with him to Korea to work for competitor SK Hynix, Inc.

SanDisk has filed a civil action against SK Hynix in California, while Toshiba has done the same in Japan. While Toshiba has not disclosed the amount of damages it seeks, it has asked the court for compensation, an injunction, and other remedies. A Toshiba spokesman has stated that the damages to the company are worth approximately $980 million.

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