Kolon gets stay of execution for Heracron exports

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Kolon gets stay of execution for Heracron exports

Kolon Industries said yesterday it has been tentatively allowed to produce and sell Heracron, a high-tech synthetic fiber, internationally.

The move came after the U.S. Court of Appeals accepted on Friday (Eastern Standard Time) the Korean manufacturer’s request to suspend an injunction banning the production and sale of the textile for the next 20 years.

The injunction was imposed on Aug. 30 by the Eastern District Court of Virginia, which ruled that Kolon had stolen confidential technology information from U.S. chemical giant DuPont to produce its own synthetic fiber.

Last November, the court ordered Kolon to pay $920 million, equivalent to around 70 percent of the company’s total assets, and imposed the sales and production ban. The size of damages came as a shock to the company as Kolon has only exported about 3 billion won ($2.6 million) worth of Heracron to the U.S.

The latest ruling by the higher court comes almost a year after a jury decided last September that Kolon stole confidential technology from DuPont.

The suspension may stay in place until the end of next year given the pace at which rulings at the appeals court proceed. Kolon filed its appeal on Sept. 4.

“It seems that the court considered the damage to the defendant, plaintiff and public on a fair basis,” said a Kolon spokesman. “We welcome the decision.”

Aramid fiber - called Heracron by Kolon and Kevlar by DuPont - is bulletproof and can resist temperatures of up to 500 degrees Celsius (932 Fahrenheit). It is mainly used for producing body armor or clothing for astronauts.

DuPont started producing Kevlar in 1973 and Kolon followed suit in 2005. The dispute between the two companies was sparked in 2009 when the U.S. chemical behemoth accused its Korean rival of stealing information about its Kevlar products from a former employee.

By Lee Sun-min, Seo Ji-eun [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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