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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
May 25, 2024

Market Now

Seoul court upholds injunction to keep SK hynix official from moving to Micron

  • PUBLISHED :March 07, 2024 - 10:40
  • UPDATED :March 07, 2024 - 10:40
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(Yonhap)

South Korean semiconductor powerhouse SK hynix has won a non-compete injunction against a former researcher who left to work for its US chipmaking rival Micron Technology, sources said Thursday, amid an intensifying race for cutting-edge artificial intelligence (AI) chips.

Last month, a Seoul court granted an injunction filed by SK hynix, preventing the researcher from joining and working for Micron until July 26, according to the sources. It also ordered him to pay 10 million won ($7,500) for each day of violation.

The researcher had previously engaged in DRAM and high bandwidth memory (HBM) business at SK hynix until departing the company in July 2022.

Since 2015, he had signed a non-compete agreement every year, which included clauses prohibiting employment with competitors, and also pledged not to disclose trade secrets right before leaving the company.

The court said the researcher had enough information and insight to help Micron potentially bolster its competitiveness in the booming HBM industry, which is currently led by SK hynix, and the injunction will safeguard the Korean chipmaker's interest.

Recently, HBM chips have been gaining popularity due to their pivotal role in powering generative AI systems, like OpenAI's ChatGPT.

SK hynix leads the market with the fourth-generation HBM3 chips, followed by Samsung Electronics and Micron.

A recent report showed that SK hynix claimed a market share of 53 percent last year, with Samsung Electronics at 38 percent and Micron at 9 percent.

But the competition for the advanced AI chips has been intensifying even more as Micron announced the commencement of mass production of fifth-generation HBM3E chips last month faster than its competitors.

Samsung Electronics also said it has developed the fifth-generation HBM chips with 12 layers of DRAM chips.

SK hynix is set to begin mass production of its latest HBM3E products within the first half. (Yonhap)

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