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Kolon Industries pleads guilty in trade secrets case

One thing that California businesses may have trouble doing is protecting trade secrets. This was the case for DuPont, a chemical company headquartered in Delaware, which filed a trade secrets lawsuit against Kolon Industries Inc. and Kolon Corporation, two industrial companies in South Korea that are collectively represented as Kolon. On April 30, Kolon pleaded guilty to conspiring to misappropriate and convert trade secrets regarding DuPont's Kevlar technology.

Court documents say that Kolon conspired with former employees from DuPont and others between June 2006 and February 2009 to acquire the company's trade secrets for the production of Kevlar, a para-aramid, high-strength synthetic fiber, in an attempt to improve the quality of Heracron, its own fiber. Kolon personnel repeatedly met with the individuals as well as exchanged emails and phone calls to obtain detailed business and technical documents. During one meeting, they indicated that they only wanted to communicate in a confidential manner that would not leave a trail of evidence.

DuPont filed its civil suit against Kolon in February 2009, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets. Then, according to the court documents, Kolon personnel tried to delete emails and other information associated with the former DuPont employees and other consultants the company hired to improve Heracron. In the plea agreement, Kolon was sentenced to pay criminal fines of $85 million and restitution of $275 million.

Businesses that believe they have become the victims of trade secret theft and have some evidence of it could file lawsuits against the perpetrating companies or individuals. The businesses might hire teams of lawyers to represent their cases, and the lawyers may contact investigators for help collecting more evidence.

Source: StreetInsider.com, "DuPont (DD) Enters Settlement with Kolon Industries in Trade Secrets Suit," April 30, 2015

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, "Kolon Industries Inc. Pleads Guilty for Conspiring to Steal DuPont Trade Secrets Involving Kevlar Technology," April 30, 2015

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