Intellectual Property Law Knowledge Center

Enforcing Trade Secrets in One Case May Void Trade Secrets in a Future Case: U.S. Court Voids $920 Million DuPont Award in Kevlar Case

April 9th, 2014

By John D. Simmons, Esq.

On April 3, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a $919.9 million verdict awarded to DuPont in a theft of trade secrets action against Kolon Industries, Inc. The award was the third largest U.S. jury verdict in 2011. A new trial has been ordered.

In 2009, DuPont sued Kolon over allegations that former employee Michael Mitchell had stolen proprietary information related to Kevlar when he left the company in 2006. During the case, Kolon was barred from admitting evidence that a variety of DuPont’s trade secrets were disclosed in patents and in an earlier litigation against Akzo Nobel NV. Without determining whether any particular piece of evidence was admissible, the Court of Appeals determined that the blanket exclusion of this evidence “severely prejudiced” Kolon.

The case will be re-tried in the Eastern District of Virginia under a new judge.

Kolon and five of its executives were later charged in 2012 on criminal counts of trade secret theft.

The civil cases can be found in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals at E.I. DuPont de Nemours Co. v. Kolon Industries Inc., Nos. 12-1260 and 12-2070, and Kolon Industries Inc. v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours Co., No. 12-1587. The criminal action can be found at U.S. v. Kolon Industries Inc. et al, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, No. 12-cr-00137.

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