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Court rejects Italian firm’s claim on trade secret infringement

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Published : 2011-09-13 20:18
Updated : 2011-09-13 20:18

A Seoul court has ruled against an Italian defense firm, rejecting its accusation that a Korean firm infringed on a trade secret concerning the development of a naval gun, officials said Monday.

Oto Melara S.p.A filed a lawsuit against Hyundai Wia Corp. last year, arguing that the Korean company developed the 76mm naval gun by reverse-engineering its own sample product.

It has sold scores of the guns to the South Korean military since it inked a deal with Seoul on the production and sale of the gun in 1975.

Hyundai Wia drew up its development plan for a 76 mm indigenous naval gun in 2001. After getting government approval for the plan, the Defense Ministry lent it the Italian firm’s naval gun, which has sat idle, as a sample.

“S.p.A. claims that 24 key components of the 76mm naval gun and technological information on the connection of these components are a trade secret,” the court said in its ruling.

“But based on the material (provided by S.p.A), it is difficult to call that a trade secret as we cannot identify what the technology used in the key components is.”

The court particularly pointed out that there have been significant technological improvements in Hyundai Wia’s product compared with the Italian firm’s gun.

“Unlike S.p.A’s naval gun, a stealth function has been added to Hyundai Wia’s. It has also introduced a digital control system, and it has made considerable improvements in terms of its launch speed and acceleration,” the ruling said.

“Considering that some information on its technology to produce the gun is disclosed on the mechanical engineering books and Internet, it is insufficient to acknowledge that Hyundai Wia reverse-engineered the sample (the ministry) lent.”

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)

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