ALM Recognizes McGuireWoods DuPont Trade Secrets Settlement as Global U.S. Litigation Dispute of the Year

July 22, 2015

The American Lawyer has recognized the massive trade secrets settlement in favor of McGuireWoods client E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. against Kolon Industries as one of the world’s most distinguished dispute resolutions for 2015 in its annual Global Legal Awards.

South Korea-based Kolon pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges and paid $360 million in penalties and restitution in April for stealing trade secrets related to DuPont’s Kevlar™ bulletproofing material, ending six years of litigation. McGuireWoods partner Brian Riopelle led DuPont’s legal team.

“This recognition by The American Lawyer is a very satisfying tribute to years of hard work by many incredible lawyers determined to ensure that justice was done for DuPont,” said Riopelle, chairman of McGuireWoods’ Intellectual Property Litigation/Patents Department.

Fellow Richmond partner Rod Satterwhite was also heavily involved in the long-running litigation. Others who played significant roles for McGuireWoods were counsels Thomas Beshere and Kristen Calleja, associate Derek Swanson and senior paralegal Nancy von Bargen, all of Richmond.

The blockbuster settlement of the long-running cross-border case marked the second in as many years that a deal or dispute involving McGuireWoods was recognized by The American Lawyer’s Global Legal Awards, one of the industry’s most prestigious awards. Last year, the purchase of client Smithfield Foods by Shanghui International Holdings Ltd. – the largest buyout ever of an American company by a Chinese firm – was recognized as the Global Merger & Acquisition Deal of the Year: China Outbound. McGuireWoods was one of four firms involved in the sale, playing a key role by reassuring restive members of Congress who had voiced concerns about the overseas sale of the largest U.S. pork producer.

The DuPont case is historically significant because it marked the first time that a foreign corporation with no direct presence in the United States was successfully served with a U.S. criminal process over the company’s objections based on an international treaty.

Federal prosecutors alleged that from 2006 until February 2009, Kolon conspired with former DuPont employees and others to steal DuPont’s secrets for Kevlar, a high-strength synthetic fiber used in body armor and other commercial applications. Kolon admitted that it was attempting to improve the quality of its competing product, Heracron.

Riopelle and his McGuireWoods team sued Kolon in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in February 2009, alleging trade secrets theft. During discovery, the court determined that Kolon personnel had deliberately deleted certain evidence.

Others to be recognized with DuPont and McGuireWoods at the Sept. 28 Global Legal Awards Dinner and Awards Presentation include Crowell & Moring and Kim & Chang. The awards celebrate all who contributed – corporations, firms, individuals – in a wide range of disciplines to the cross-border deals or disputes from Jan. 1, 2014, through mid-April 2015. Judges chose 30 honorees honorees from more than 300 entries representing virtually all of the world’s major law firms. That doesn’t include grand prize winners who will be announced at the September awards gala.

For media coverage of the settlement, please click here.