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Kolmar Korea Wins Case Against Italian Cosmetics Maker Intercos for Suncare Technology Theft


Kolmar Korea (KRX:161890), a Korean cosmetics ODM (Original Development Manufacturing) company, has announced its victory in a lawsuit against Intercos Korea, the Korean subsidiary of the Italian cosmetics maker, Intercos. Intercos was revealed to have misappropriated and profited from the key technology for suncare (sunscreen) products, originally developed by Kolmar Korea. Kolmar Korea had invested hundreds of billions of KRW in this technology.

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Kolmar Korea wins the case against Italian cosmetics maker Intercos for stealing suncare technology (Kolmar Korea R&D Complex) (Photo: Kolmar Korea Holdings)

Kolmar Korea took legal action for 'trade secret infringement' against its former employees who have leaked the technology and Intercos Korea, resulting in favorable rulings in both civil and criminal cases. The Korean courts ordered Intercos Korea to pay KRW 200 million in damages in the initial trial of the civil suit last August. Prior to this, in the second trial of the criminal case, two former employees, identified as A and B, were found guilty of technology leakage. A was sentenced to 10 months in prison while B received a 6-month prison term and 2 years of probation.

According to knowledeable sources of the Korean legal issues, A and B moved to Intercos Korea in 2018 and illicitly disclosed the suncare technology without authorization. A, who was a cosmetics researcher at Kolmar Korea for 10 years from 2008, assumed the role of general manager for cosmetics development at Intercos Korea immediately after leaving Kolmar Korea in January 2018. B, who worked as a researcher for basic cosmetics development at Kolmar Korea, was also involved in the unauthorized disclosure of the technology.

From March to December 2018, Intercos Korea completed 44 audits of suncare products from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety of Korea in a short period of 10 months with just three employees. The court concluded that this is unusual in the cosmetics industry and the company used the technology stolen from Kolmar Korea. Notably, Intercos Korea's sales from sunscreen products alone in 2018 reached a staggering KRW 46 billion.

Kolmar Korea, established in 1990, serves over 900 clients with an annual production of 1.5 billion units. In the suncare market, it is impossible to talk about product development and production without mentioning Kolmar Korea, thanks to its leading technologies.

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Eun-Jeong Lee

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