Send to

Kolmar Korea wins trade secret case against Intercos

Sept. 11, 2023 - 16:32 By Shim Woo-hyun
Kolmar Korea R&D Complex (Kolmar Korea)

Kolmar Korea announced Monday that the company has won a lawsuit against Italian cosmetics manufacturer Intercos’ local office here, which allegedly transferred trade secrets about sun care product technology.

According to Kolmar Korea, the Seoul Central District Court has ruled in favor of Kolmar Korea in a civil case, in which Kolmar Korea accused Intercos Korea and its two former employees of stealing confidential technologies related to Kolmar’s sun care products.

The court has ordered that Intercos Korea and Kolmar’s former employees discard all the misappropriated information and together pay 200 million won ($150,334) plus overdue interest to Kolmar Korea.

The trade secret infringement took place as a former Kolmar Korea employee moved to Intercos Korea in 2018. The employee, who had worked for more than nine years at Kolmar since 2008, retired from the company in January 2018, telling Kolmar Korea that they would be moving to the US. But the employee was actually hired by Intercos Korea in less than a week after leaving Kolmar Korea.

It was later found that the employee had stolen hundreds of computer files relating to Kolmar Korea’s sun care products by using Google Drive and given them to Intercos Korea.

Another former Kolmar Korea employee, who worked at the company between 2007 and 2012, also stole trade secrets and moved to Intercos Korea.

Intercos Korea, which was not producing sun care products until 2017, suddenly started to make sun care products in 2018. In the same year, Intercos Korea also received approvals from the Drug Ministry for a total of 44 sun care products and created 46 billion won in annual sales with the products.

“The latest court’s ruling is a stern warning against an international company’s unethical misappropriation of trade secrets and its attempt to damage an honest local company,” an official from Kolmar Korea said.

“We have invested hundreds of billions of won over the last three decades to develop technologies for our sun care products. The company will take legal action all the way to the end against the attempts to steal them,” the official added.

Meanwhile, in a criminal case, a local court had already determined in February this year that Intercos Korea and the two Kolmar former employees were guilty of trade secret theft.

The court then sentenced the employee who had started working at Kolmar in 2008, to 10 months in jail, and the other employee to six months in jail with a stay of execution for two years. The court also ordered Intercos Korea to pay a 10 million won fine.