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SanDisk, Toshiba sue SK Hynix in trade secrets cases

The two companies have accused SK Hynix of illegally obtaining data relating to NAND flash memory technology.

SanDisk memory cards
Sarah Tew/CNET

Toshiba and SanDisk are seeking damages from SK Hynix in separately filed lawsuits, both of which allege that the company profited from the theft of data surrounding NAND flash memory technology.

Toshiba and SanDisk have partnered for years to produce the flash memory chip technology used in mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. Toshiba is currently the second-largest manufacturer of NAND memory chips in the world by revenue and market share.

On Thursday, Tokyo police arrested a former SanDisk engineer under suspicion of providing NAND flash memory technical data to Hynix in 2008. The engineer once worked at a joint venture manufacturing plant with Toshiba, leaving SanDisk to work for Hynix.

Toshiba has filed a suit against Hynix in Tokyo District Court, whereas SanDisk has filed a separate claim in Santa Clara Superior Court in California. SanDisk has also filed a criminal complaint against the engineer.

Toshiba has not revealed what compensation or damages it is seeking -- although it estimates that the alleged data leak resulted in losses of more than $980 million -- but SanDisk said it is seeking compensation, an injunction and "other remedies," according to Reuters.

South Korean firm Hynix said it has not yet received the litigation.

In 2004, Toshiba sued Hynix for the alleged infringement of memory patents, and after three years, the dispute was settled with cross-patent licensing. The two companies are also both currently working on next-generation memory technology.

This story originally appeared at ZDNet under the headline "Toshiba, SanDisk sue SK Hynix over alleged trade secrets theft."