HomeBody Armor MaterialsDuPont Secures Ban on Kolon's Para-Aramid Fiber Sales

DuPont Secures Ban on Kolon’s Para-Aramid Fiber Sales

U.S. District Judge Robert Payne, presiding in Richmond, Virginia, issued a decisive ruling yesterday, prohibiting Kolon from marketing products in the United States utilizing its para-aramid fiber. This decision followed a jury’s determination last year that the South Korean manufacturer, Kolon, had illicitly acquired trade secrets linked to the Kevlar fiber, rendering it liable for more than $919 million in damages.

“The judge’s order conveys a resounding message to Kolon and other entities that they cannot reap the benefits of stolen trade secrets,” expressed DuPont spokesman Thomas Powell in an emailed statement. DuPont, headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, is expanding Kevlar production in response to the growing demand for armor and lightweight materials that reduce energy consumption. In pursuit of this goal, the company inaugurated a $500 million facility in South Carolina last year to augment Kevlar output, catering to various applications like tires, auto components, and fiber-optic cables.

Jeff Randall, an attorney representing Kolon, expressed the company’s disappointment with the court’s decisions and contested the necessity of an injunction, asserting it lacks legal or factual justification. He added, “Kolon will immediately file a motion to stay the order.”

Kevlar, alongside Nomex, a heat-resistant fiber used in firefighting gear, contributed approximately $1.5 billion to DuPont’s $38 billion in sales last year.

In September 2011, a jury in a federal court in Richmond established that Kolon, headquartered in Gyeonggi, South Korea, and its U.S. subsidiary had improperly accessed proprietary Kevlar information by hiring certain former DuPont engineers and marketers. Kolon markets its Heracron fiber as a competitor to Kevlar.

DuPont initiated legal action against Kolon in February 2009, alleging the theft of confidential Kevlar data. DuPont introduced the bullet-resistant fiber in 1965, and it is employed in products such as body armor, military helmets, ropes, cables, and tires. Kolon commenced its own para-aramid fiber production in 2005.

The jurors concluded that Kolon had gained access to Kevlar secrets by employing Michael Mitcher, a former DuPont engineer who had previously served as a Kevlar marketing executive.

In his ruling, Judge Payne underscored the jury’s finding that Kolon’s executives had “willfully and maliciously misappropriated” Kevlar secrets, engaging in “unlawful conduct.”

Consequently, Kolon has been prohibited for a period of 20 years from participating in any activities related to the “manufacturing, using, marketing, promoting, selling, distributing, offering for sale, or soliciting customers for any para-aramid product,” as specified by the judge.

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