Kolon Industries Ends Lawsuit with DuPont Co. Over Trade Secrets

kpride, May 1, 2015, 9:33 a.m.

Kolon Industries Inc., South Korea's top textile and chemical material maker, said Friday it has terminated a six-year legal battle with U.S. chemicals juggernaut DuPont Co. over an alleged trade secret theft.

In February 2009, DuPont filed a lawsuit against Kolon, alleging its South Korean rival stole trade secrets involving aramid, a type of fiber used in making tires and bullet-proof vests, by hiring one of the U.S. company's retired engineers.

Denying the charges, Kolon began an antitrust suit against DuPont just months later. In 2012, jurors in a federal court in Richmond, Virginia, ruled in favor of the U.S. firm and ordered Kolon to pay US$919.9 million in damages, but the verdict was overturned in an appeals court and a retrial was ordered last year.

Kolon said it has settled all the legal disputes with DuPont by pleading guilty to the charge of conspiring to steal trade secrets, striking a plea bargain with U.S. prosecutors, and agreeing to pay DuPont $275 million to end the dispute and a fine of $85 million to the U.S. government.

"The settlement has led to a mutually satisfactory and amicable resolution," said Kolon CEO Park Dong-moon. "We are now free to focus on expanding the aramid production business."

Kolon first started its aramid fiber business in 2005, entering a market that had been largely dominated by DuPont and Japanese chemical company Teijin.

DuPont developed the aramid fiber first in 1973 and is making related fiber products under its Kevlar brand, while Teijin and Kolon are producing similar products under their respective brands Twaron and Heracron.

Shares of Kolon Industries closed at 64,700 won ($60.23) on the local bourse Thursday, down 4.01 percent from the previous session.

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