So I can tell the US military not to worry about selling China the blue prints for patriot missile systems! They will be so happy to hear that lol.
Hard drives are made in Thailand because of the economics, and Thailand manufacturers have little economic incentive to develop new drives (probably the opposite, as new drives might mean new equipment/technique/etc. which have costs).
There is a entrenched innovation industry in the US and other places, and as a result, other companies don't chomp at the bit to challenge it. Its a bit like incumbents in elections.
Your example is a factor of globalized capitalism, and it doesn't show that Thai corporations don't understand (or couldn't incredibly quickly figure it out) how their hard drives work. They also have no reason to care unless they choose to compete.
Remove the entrenched industry players though, and you would see many new companies all over the world start investing in R&D on hard-drives.
And, its all not representative of what we are talking about. We are not talking about corporations whose only goals are profit, we are talking about civilizations, or at least governments and their millitaries, who have a VERY vested interest in understanding any new technology, even if it isn't exactly profitable. While certainly the other party would try to limit how much we could reverse engineer something they sell us, its unlikely to succeed. Look at nuclear proliferation for example, despite massive efforts to prevent this technical understanding from spreading, it is.
Galciv's universe in my opinion is:
1) Not as economically globalized as Earth
2) Culturally less homogenized than Earth (maybe Earth today has the same variety, but not in scale, all major world powers today, are capitalist-ish, few operate at the sort of extremes you have in GalCiv, and those that do, do not do so on an even footing)
3) Due to the accelerated aspects of advanced technological, its historical time frame is accelerated. IE, 100 turns in GalCiv might be a few years of realtime, but the historical comparisons and effect would be closer to 100 to 200 years of real earth history. Which makes it unique.
These factors leave any comparison to "today", less than ideal, and comparisons to anything less than government level organizations inappropriate. GalCiv's factions are more akin to imperialist nation states and the like anywhere from 1500AD to 1914AD. But the pace of events is much more rapid.
Personally, the idea of licensing with a 50% gain of the tech is growing on me. But, ultimately, tech trading is not a bad feature, it is a standard element of many 4X games, it doesn't add anything significant to the game that is "fun" (it fixes one small complaint about tech specializations which would be better fixed by letting you reject gifts, which is needed for other reasons), and its going to be counter-intuitive to new players. If I were the designer I'd quickly triage this idea into the "Kinda nice, but we will never have time for"