Kolon gets retrial in dispute with DuPont

By Seo Jee-yeon

U.S. appeals court overturns verdict in $920 million trade secret theft case

  • Published : Apr 4, 2014 - 21:05
  • Updated : Apr 4, 2014 - 21:05
South Korean chemical maker Kolon Industries on Friday welcomed a U.S. court ruling for a retrial of a $920 million case with DuPont over an alleged trade secret theft.

“It is a meaningful ruling that accepts our argument that evidence and testimonies in favor of Kolon were wrongfully ruled out in the first trial,” a company official said. “We hope for an objective and fair outcome in the retrial.”

DuPont, the largest U.S. chemical firm by market value, had filed a lawsuit in February 2009 alleging its South Korean rival stole trade secrets for Kevlar, a type of aramid fiber used to make tires, fiber-optic cables and bulletproof vests. It claimed that Kolon stole the technology by hiring one of its retired engineers.

Kolon denied the charges, arguing that DuPont has made public the details about Kevlar for a long time and started an antitrust suit against the U.S. company just months later.

In 2012, jurors in a federal court in Richmond, Virginia, ruled in favor of Dupont and ordered Kolon to pay $919.9 million in damages.

But the city’s 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the verdict, saying the judge wrongly excluded evidence related to Kolon’s defense. It ordered a new trial under a different judge.

DuPont said it was disappointed by the appeals court decision.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue Kolon to hold them accountable and are confident that we will prevail,” Thomas Sager, DuPont’s general counsel, said in a statement.

Kolon made inroads into the aramid fiber market in 2005, which had been dominated by DuPont and Teijin, a Japanese chemical company.

DuPont developed the aramid fiber first in 1973 and is making related fiber products under the brand of Kevlar, with Teijin and Kolon producing under the brands of Twaron and Heracron. (Yonhap)