Apple A9 (mockup 002)

Samsung lifted trade secrets from rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited (TSMC), the world’s #1 independent semiconductor foundry, Taiwan’s top court has ruled.

According to a report published Wednesday by Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes, the court has determined that Liang Mong-song, a former senior director of research and development at TSMC, revealed TSMC’s trade secrets and patents related to its advanced FinFET process technology to Samsung Electronics.

The report makes no mention of Apple, but the connection couldn’t be clearer: Samsung might have been able to leverage the stolen secrets to win orders for Apple’s next-generation ‘A9’ processor. Prior reports have posited that both Samsung and TSMC got to build Apple’s A9 chips on the advanced 14-nanometer FinFET process technology which uses entirely new three-dimensional transistors.

Stealing know-how from a rival

Citing a report published by Taiwan’s CommonWealth magazine, DigiTimes wrote that Liang played a key role in allowing Samsung to beat TSMC in the 14/16nm race.

“The Supreme Court on August 24 maintained the determination made by the second-instance court, prohibiting Liang from working for Samsung in any form until December 31, 2015,” reads the report.

Coincidentally or not, TSMC chairman Morris Chang told investors back in January that his company would lose out to Samsung in the FinFET segment in 2015. He also said back then that TSMC has committed a “blank check” to developing a finer 10-nanometer process technology “in the shortest time possible.”

Wrapping it up

An analysis conducted by third-party experts regarding key manufacturing processes has determined that starting with 45nm to 28nm processes, the difference between Samsung’s and TSMC’s technologies narrowed.

“The 16nm and 14nm FinFET products that both companies will mass produce this year were even more alike,” the report indicated. “It could be hard to tell (if the product) came from Samsung or TSMC if only structural analysis is used.”

Conflicting reports make it harder to determine the exact percentage of total A9 chip production between Samsung and TSMC. What’s clear is that both companies will fab the A9 chips for Apple’s next-generation iPhones and iPads on the 14-nanometer FinFET process.

Source: DigiTimes

  • Toukale

    Not shocked by this. “If you are not cheating, you are not trying.”

    • DevXav

      Samsung will always copy/cheat to keep up with Apple on this segment..

      Else it’s pretty much dead and will be years outdated..

      • Dan

        Good artists copy; great artists steal
        -Steve Jobs

        Just for irony’s sake, tbh I’m done with Samsung, just thought I’d throw that out there.

      • Mike

        Please remind me when you just got 1080p display? lol sounds like the iPhone is outdated

      • yourmomsbox

        what phones really need is one of them 4k 3d display

  • igorsky

    Well this is just jaw-dropping, shocking news.

    Nah, I’m kidding…known fact that Samsung is a complete scumbag company.

  • Christopher

    Nothing new, samsungs a shit bag company

  • Tim

    Well we all know that’s how Samsung operates, hands down their note 5 is quite snappy though.

    • Bugs Bunnay

      Yup. Love that iphone 4 plus with stylus.

      • Dan

        You’re kidding right?
        The iPhone Plus is a Note without a stylus. Goes both ways buddy.

        For the record, Note 5 sucks though, very disapointed.

      • Toukale

        You had to go there. Apple was doing big screen with stylus since 1993 with the Newton. Besides the Dell streak would dispute that notion of yours.

      • Dan

        I didn’t go there, he did. If you deny that Samsung’s Note line brought about the popularity of the ‘phablets’, you are delusional. It got popular, and others (including Apple) hopped on it. I don’t even like Samsung, I don’t plan to ever by any of their phones again, and I can see that.

      • Toukale

        I am just saying you were calling him/her out like samsung was the first to bring this about. I am just saying a product in a bigger screen size is not innovation, stylus have been shipping in products for decades. If you want to give someone credit, then dell should be the one since it introduced/shipped the first big android device, not samsung.

      • Dan

        No one is ever first aymore it seems, it’s about getting it right. Apple is rarely first in bringing in features, but they polish it when they do. Imo Samsung has done a lot of shady things, but they do deserve credit for bringing about the phablet/stylus combo sucessfully. Saying that the Note was iphone 4 plus with stylus was ridiculous.

      • Bugs Bunnay

        Seems like somebody is having a cow. Take my comments lightly buddy.

      • ravinigga

        Note is a phablet and iPhone plus a phone?
        I’m wrong or is it a phablet?

  • Tyler Smith

    Everyone steals from one another. ESPECIALLY in the tech world. Its honestly the only way to keep in the black in this day and age

    • Borrowing or replicating a feature is one thing. But stealing trade secrets to sell to a rival is on a whole different level

      • Unsurprisingly, you ignore it when a whole lot more comes from Apple and their hypocritical lawsuits (bit. ly/1si5DVX)…

  • James G


  • 5723alex .

    Will Apple use Samsung’s chips build on stolen trade secrets ?

  • nyangejr

    That’s not cheating, we call it lobbying.

    sent from Mobile Safari on iPhone 6

    • nyangejr

      So when is iDownloadblog releasing the iPhone app?

  • Benedict

    Why you title “Samsung stole…” when the ex R&D director of TSMC transferred knowledge to Samsung employees by beeing a professor at a Samsung sponsered university and teaching students which worked for Samsung??? The case was between TSMC and Liang Mong-song – not Samsung!
    You turned the whole story around in favor of you anti-Samsung/pro Apple fanatism. You intentionally misslead readers with articles like this and fuel things up.
    iDB readers better read also other sources if they want to know the whole and true story…

    • Dan

      Wouldn’t be the first time. Thanks for the info.

    • iDude

      Exactly. I’m an Apple fan myself and hate Samsung. But this article is immature.

    • Rowan09

      It’s still stealing because Samsung used it as leverage. If you go to the bank and the teller gives you $10 extra because they like you, doesn’t make it right and it’s stealing.

    • The typical Zibreg way…always take his articales with a table spoon of salt. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rhys Eunson

      So let me see. A senior R&D director at TSMC quits his job. Then just happens to find a professors job at a Samsung sponsored university. On top of that, every single one of his students is a Samsung veteran employee. Liang then became CTO of Samsung’s system LSI division in July 2011. Since then Samsung’s 14/16nm process has become pretty much the same as TSMC.
      If you think Samsung is innocent in all this, you must be really naive.
      I think this lawsuit is just a precursor to another lawsuit against Samsung.
      TSMC has proof that trade secrets were transferred to Samsung, now they will be able to investigate if Samsung actively participated in the theft of TSMCs IP.

      • Benedict

        Do you even know how many people quit their job to switch to another company of the same industry? It is normal that their contracts prohibit technology transfer. Liang bypassed this by working for a university.
        Apart from that the problem here is the wording of the title. Not Samsung is accused but Liang. He did not follow his non disclosure agreement with TSMC.

  • Andrew

    I used to work at a summer camp called TSMC and I always do a double-take

    whenever you guys mention it :p

  • M_thoroughbred

    Let the wars begin in the comments!!!! Lol

  • ♋JULY 17♋

    They (Samsung ) should just stick to tvs instead !!!

    • Andrieux Querido

      Do you , know that Samsung Stole Pioneer Tv projects making Pioneer quit the TV Market. Samsung are leatches

  • johnsm

    dog eaters

  • James

    stop stealing our stuff

  • Andrieux Querido

    Samsung Stole Pioneer Tv projects making Pioneer quit the TV Market. Samsung = Shamesung