DuPont wins 20-year ban on Kolon's Kevlar rival

Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:16am EDT
 
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - DuPont Co (DD.N: Quote), the inventor of Kevlar used in bulletproof vests and other body armor, won a federal court order barring South Korea's Kolon Industries Inc (120110.KS: Quote) from making a competing version of the synthetic fiber for 20 years.

Kolon on Friday asked U.S. District Judge Robert Payne in Richmond, Virginia, to put his permanent injunction on hold while it appeals, saying a ban would cause the "uncompensated death" of an entire business and result in irreparable harm.

Shares of Kolon closed Friday down 2.4 percent in Seoul, the first trading day after the injunction was issued.

Last September 14, a Richmond federal jury ordered Kolon to pay DuPont $919.9 million of damages for stealing trade secrets relating to Kevlar, a high-strength para-aramid fiber used in body armor, military helmets, tires and fiber-optic cables.

DuPont had sued Kolon in February 2009, accusing it of misusing proprietary information obtained from Michael Mitchell, a 24-year DuPont veteran who left the company in 2006 to start his own fiber business and later began working with Kolon.

Mitchell in 2010 pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets and served most of an 18-month prison term, court and prison records show.

In issuing the 20-year ban on activity related to para-aramid fibers, Payne called Kolon's use of stolen trade secrets "integral and essential" to its production of Heracron, a rival to Kevlar and Twaron, made by Japan's Teijin Ltd (3401.T: Quote).

He also said the $919.9 million judgment alone was not an adequate remedy, explaining that Kolon would still be free to use the stolen trade secrets at DuPont's expense, and that DuPont might have to go to South Korea to enforce the judgment. DuPont began selling Kevlar in 1965.   Continued...

 
A view of the Dupont logo on a train car at the Dupont Edge Moor facility near Wilmington, Delaware, April 17, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer