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Trade Secrets Exposed – and Why You Should Keep Them Under Wraps

by | Jul 20, 2023 | Intellectual Property, Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are like the James Bond of the business world—mysterious, powerful, and they require the utmost protection. A recent scandal involving a former Samsung employee leaking confidential information to rival firms is an example of how both companies and individuals can end up in a sticky situation due to issues related to internal company secrets.

The Samsung Spy Saga

On June 12, prosecutors made a jaw-dropping announcement, unveiling an indictment that sent shockwaves through the business world. Choi Jinseog, formerly of Samsung Electronics, allegedly went undercover to aid rival firm Foxconn in setting up shop in China. How? By pilfering top-secret information about supplier networks, trade secrets, and even cleanroom management from Samsung.

However, Choi’s lawyer claims this whole spy business was a misunderstanding, insisting the info Choi swiped was not about chip design or manufacturing. 

Time will tell how this case unfolds, but the recent indictment highlights the serious legal – and financial – implications of mishandling confidential information.

The Secret Sauce

Why is Samsung investing so much time, resources, and capital in pursuing this case? According to prosecutors’ findings, the alleged theft of the above-mentioned trade secrets caused a staggering $200 million in damages. How is that possible?

Trade secrets are confidential and proprietary information that give a company a competitive edge. Unlike patents or copyrights, which require public disclosure, these types of company secrets remain protected as long as they are kept secret. Companies invest significant resources in developing and safeguarding these secrets, recognizing their critical importance in maintaining their market position.

Trade secrets are the ultimate ammunition in the business arsenal. They empower companies to outperform their competitors, secure customer loyalty, and command market dominance. You can see why Samsung would want to go after Jinseog hard – a strong punishment for him will make others less likely to reveal trade secrets in the future.

Don’t Spill the Beans

Remember, trade secrets should never be taken lightly. The case against Choi Jinseog case serves as a sobering reminder of the perils that come with sharing an employer’s trade secrets. Next time you sign confidential agreements with an employer, take a moment to think about the costly ramifications that await should you ever dare to breach the agreement.


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