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Ruling favors Kumho Petrochemical

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In a decision handed down by United States International Trade Commission (ITC) recently, Aministrative Law Judge Paul Luckern found Korea Kumho Petrochemical Co. Ltd. (KKPC) not to be in violation of Section 337, the ITC's unfair trade practice laws, with respect to its importation of tire chemicals into the U.S.

The favorable decision also applies to the importation of tires into the U.S. made with KKPC tire chemicals, including Kumho brand tires.

The Seoul, Korea-based company was the target of a Section 337 investigation initiated in January 2005 at the request of international chemical supplier Flexsys America L.P., which claimed that Kumho infringed on Flexsys' U.S. process patents 5,117,063, 5,608,111 and 6,140,538 related to KKPC's production of N-(1,3-dimethylbutyl)-N'-phenyl-p-phenylenediamine ("6PPD") tire antidegradant chemicals found in most tires sold in the U.S.

In his decision, Judge Luckern ruled that Kumho did not directly or indirectly infringe the patents asserted against it by Flexsys.

"We are gratified by the decision that there is no violation by KKPC of the ITC's unfair trade practice laws," says Mi-Hyung Kim, Kumho's executive vice president and general counsel. "This decision clearly vindicates KKPC from the patent infringement allegations made against us by Flexsys."

Kumho was represented in the ITC action by two law firms: San Francisco-based intellectual property law firm Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP, which recently was recognized as one of the top 10 patent litigation firms in the U.S.; and Washington, D.C.-based Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg LLP, a leading domestic ITC firm. Kumho also was advised by Heller Ehrman LLP.

For more information, the official case is labeled as follows: "In the Matter of Certain Rubber Antidegradants, Components Thereof, And Products Containing Same, Investigation No. 337-TA-533, before ITC Administrative Law Judge Paul J. Luckern."

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