By Jun Ji-hye
SK Innovation has filed patent infringement lawsuits against LG Chem in the United States, seeking to ban the sale of LG's electric vehicle (EV) batteries, company officials said Sunday. The suits were filed Sept. 3.
SK Innovation had said it would file lawsuits against LG Chem and its U.S. subsidiary, LG Chem Michigan, with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and a U.S. court, and against LG Electronics with a U.S. court.
SK Innovation claims the three companies have made unfair profits from violating its patents on "secondary batteries."
"LG Electronics was included in our lawsuits as it has manufactured battery modules and packs after receiving battery cells from LG Chem," a SK Innovation official said.
SK Innovation accused LG Chem of violating its patents in producing EV batteries supplied to GM, Audi and Jaguar, according to industry sources.
The legal action comes after LG Chem filed a pair of lawsuits with the ITC and a U.S. court against SK Innovation at the end of April for allegedly stealing confidential business information through employee poaching. At the time, LG Chem called SK Innovation's EV batteries supplied to Volkswagen into question.
If the ITC and a U.S. court accept SK Innovation's claim, LG Chem would be forced to suspend supplying the products in question, the SK Innovation official said.
"This is likely to deal a severe blow to LG Chem's battery business," the official said.
SK Innovation submitted photos of the battery of GM's Chevrolet Bolt EV. The company bought the EV in the United States and disassembled it to take those photos, sources said.
Meanwhile, the ITC began its investigation at the end of May into LG Chem's claim that SK Innovation has stolen core technologies related to secondary batteries by poaching 76 employees from almost all departments at LG Chem since 2017.
The ITC is expected to rule at the end of next year.
Amid their escalating legal battle, the two leading EV battery makers have also left open the possibility of negotiations.
When announcing a decision to file lawsuits, SK Innovation said it was "ready to resolve the issue through dialogue at any time."
LG Chem also said Sept. 3 that it was willing to accept a meeting between CEOs of the two companies if SK Innovation admitted its mistake, apologized sincerely, promised to make efforts to prevent a recurrence of such incidents and came up with proper measures of compensation.