South Korea's Kolon accused of stealing trade secrets

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 19, 2012 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Materials, Suppliers

WASHINGTON (UPDATED Oct. 19, 12:10 p.m. ET) — South Korean chemicals firm Kolon Industries Inc. and five of its employees have been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly stealing trade secrets related to DuPont Co.’s Kevlar material and to a similar product made by Teijin Ltd.

The indictments come a little more than a year after DuPont was awarded almost $920 million in a related trade-secrets lawsuit against Seoul-based Kolon. Kolon allegedly obtained confidential information about production of DuPont’s Kevlar-brand and Teijin’s Twaron-brand para-aramid fibers between 2002 and 2009 from former employees of both firms, Justice Department officials said in an Oct. 18 news release. Kolon then used this information to produce its own Heracron-brand para-amid fibers.

“Kolon is accused of engaging in a massive industrial espionage campaign that allowed it to bring Heracron quickly to the market and compete directly with Kevlar,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in the release.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer added in the release that “by allegedly conspiring to steal DuPont’s and Teijin’s intellectual property, Kolon threatened to undermine an economic engine at both companies.”

In an Oct. 18 statement from Wilmington, Del.-based DuPont, Senior Vice President and general counsel Thomas Sager said the firm “believes in a fair and level playing field, and will remain vigilant in protecting and enforcing our trade secrets.”

“Today’s announcement of the indictment speaks for itself and constitutes a major step in bringing this matter to a conclusion,” Sager said. “We will continue to pursue enforcement of our civil judgment in the United States, Korea and around the world.”

In one of the incidents, Kolon employees met with a DuPont employee at a hotel in Richmond, Va., in 2008 to discuss how the DuPont employee could provide Kevlar-related trade secrets without leaving evidence. In a separate incident, a Kolon employee copied information from a CD owned by a former DuPont employee who was working as a consultant to Kolon. The CD contained a detailed breakdown of DuPont’s capabilities and costs for its Kevlar products, customer pricing information and related data.

The indictments were filed in U.S. District Court in Washington. The indicted Kolon employees are Jong-Hyun Choi, 56; In-Sik Han, 50; Kyeong-Hwan Rho, 47; Young-Soo Seo, 48; and Ju-Wan Kim, 40.

The indictment seeks at least $225 million in forfeiture — representing what Kolon profited from Heracron sales from January 2006 through June 2012 — as well as $341,000 in payments made to former DuPont employees in exchange for trade-secret information.

Officials with Kolon and with Osaka, Japan-based Teijin could not be reached for comment. Teijin has a sales office in Atlanta, while Kolon operates its API-Kolon distribution unit in the Chicago area.


Comments

South Korea's Kolon accused of stealing trade secrets

By Frank Esposito
Senior Staff Reporter

Published: October 19, 2012 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Audacious vandal stuns Taipei Plas

September 29, 2014 4:59 pm ET

Melodrama erupted at the traditionally tranquil Taipei Plas trade show on Sept. 28 when a mysterious intruder flung red paint at the Baumüller...    More

Image

Germans, Chinese question Plastindia move to Gujarat

September 29, 2014 4:39 pm ET

Two major international partners of the Plastindia trade show have raised serious concerns about the show organizer's decision to move it to another...    More

Image

Asahi Kasei breaks ground on Alabama compounding plant

September 29, 2014 5:39 pm ET

Asahi Kasei Plastics North America will be able to solve two problems at once with a new compounding plant in Athens, Ala.    More

Image

Shini pushes into western China

September 29, 2014 4:28 pm ET

Despite intellectual-property brigands, Taiwan's Shini Plastics Technologies Inc. is zestfully pursuing the enormous Chinese market for plastics...    More

Image

EEOC suing movable wall maker Hufcor

September 29, 2014 3:09 pm ET

Movable wall and partition maker Hufcor Inc. is facing a federal lawsuit from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after violating federal...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Mexico - State of the Industry Report

This report analyzes the $20 million dollar plastics industry in Mexico including sales of machinery & equipment, resins and finished products.

Our industry analysis highlights macro industry trends and micro trends faced by companies that do business in Mexico. The report also provides key industry statistics and forecasts to anticipate future industry expansion.

Learn more

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events