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Between technology and emotion (KOR)

Sept 26,2019
LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics are engaged in a fierce battle to claim the technological supremacy of their televisions. LG OLED TV, left, and Samsung OLED TV. [KIM YOUNG-MIN]
The author is an industry team reporter of the JoongAng Ilbo.

As the information technology industry leads the world, technology has become a power more formidable than ever. Advanced technology means innovation and has become a requirement for survival. Companies focus on research and development and recruiting talents, and the United States is battling with China over Huawei to defend its technology hegemony. Technology disputes between renowned global companies are common, as we’ve seen in the lawsuit between Apple and Samsung in 2011, a legal battle between Apple and Google in 2012 and a 36 trillion-won ($30 billion) lawsuit between Apple and Qualcomm in 2017.

Korean companies are no exceptions. According to the Korean Intellectual Property Office, there were 284 patent dispute cases involving Korean companies in the United States last year. Among them, 104 were raised by Korean companies. In a list of companies with the most number of patent registrations in the United States, Samsung Electronics is ranked second, while LG is seventh. Friction between Korean corporations that can be seen as emotional discord are actually an extension of technology disputes at a greater scale. The TV dispute between Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics is essentially about the technologies regarding requirements for 8K resolution TV and the difference between QLED TV and OLED TV. A battery lawsuit between LG Chemical and SK Innovation also deals with whether technology was leaked or not.

When companies want to promote their technologies and defend their patent rights, such lawsuits cannot be degraded as “wars of attrition” or “dogfights for interests.” Economic value and the impact of each technology has grown so much. We are no longer in the government-driven development era in which Korean companies work together. In the global stage these days, all players are in competition. Precedence of government intervention could be an obstacle that limits Korean companies’ response to technology disputes with foreign companies. Chinese companies are involved in lawsuits around the world for stealing technologies largely thanks to the Chinese government’s protection. Technology disputes between companies often reach an agreement according to the interests of both parties. Companies actually know very well the point where technology competition leads to technology development and cooperation rather than a fatal loss.

JoongAng Ilbo, Sept. 25, Page 31