Mr. Shin (59), vice president of a supplier to SK hynix, was sentenced last Wednesday to one year in prison in the lower court trial for allegedly leaking key technologies for SK hynix's DRAM chips to China. The ruling has been issued two years and eight months since he was indicted in January 2021. Criminal cases take an average of five to eight months to reach a lower court ruling. Industry observers said Shin’s trial had taken way too long, even considering the nature of the case - a technology leak. Shin's lawyer said, "It was already difficult enough to explain to the court because there were many contentious issues in a very specialized technology field, and even the judge changed several times, which prolonged the hearing."
Six out of 10 lower court trials for technology leakage crimes take more than a year until a ruling is issued. Delays in court decisions can lead to delayed responses by industry, which can cause secondary damage. In the global market, the battle for advanced technology is extremely fierce, and watchers say that the Korean judicial system is not keeping pace with the fierceness of the battle.
According to a report issued Wednesday on the status of the court pending cases related to violations of the Industrial Technology Protection Act that Rep. Yang Hyang-ja of Korea’s Hope Party received from the Supreme Court, 35 (44.3 percent) of the 79 people whose first trials were underway as of June were indicted more than two years ago. Another 13 (16.5 percent) were indicted more than one year ago.
"The longer the trial lasts, the more the technology of the victim company is exposed to the risk of leakage, which poses a significant business threat," said Sohn Seung-woo, president of the Korea Intellectual Property Institute. "Korea, like the U.S., Japan, and Taiwan, needs to strengthen the expertise of its national institutions in intellectual property matters."