US International Trade Commission reaffirms ruling in favor of LG over SK in battery feud - Korea Times
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US International Trade Commission reaffirms ruling in favor of LG over SK in battery feud

USITC headquarters in Washington D.C. / Korea Times file
USITC headquarters in Washington D.C. / Korea Times file

By Baek Byung-yeul

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has reiterated that SK Innovation (SKI) has sold and imported electric vehicle (EV) batteries in the U.S. that were manufactured using industrial secrets misappropriated from LG Energy Solution (LGES).

In a 96-page document made public Thursday (local time), the USITC agreed with LGES's assertion that stated "it is clear that SKI, without the stolen LG Chem Trade Secrets, would not have been able to develop the information in the stolen trade secrets in anything less than ten years."

On Feb. 10, the USITC gave a final ruling in favor of LGES which had accused SKI of intellectual property theft related to electric vehicle (EV) battery technology. The commission also issued a 10-year exclusion order prohibiting SKI from importing some batteries into the U.S. However, the commission also permitted SKI to import components needed to produce EV batteries for Volkswagen for two years and for Ford for four years.

LG Energy Solution researchers pose with the company's battery cells at its R&D center in Daejeon, in this photo provided by the company, Friday. Courtesy of LG Energy Solution
LG Energy Solution researchers pose with the company's battery cells at its R&D center in Daejeon, in this photo provided by the company, Friday. Courtesy of LG Energy Solution

In reaction to the USITC's final determination, LGES said the USITC's opinion showed "SK Innovation's deliberate, repeated illegal actions and extraordinary bad faith efforts to hinder the Commission's investigation."

"LG Energy Solution's multi-billion dollar investment in its lithium-ion battery business was a down payment on a carbon-free future and an investment we believed was safe from intellectual property thieves," Denise Gray, president of LG Energy Solution Michigan Tech Center, said. "SK Innovation stole a technology that required tens of thousands of hours of careful and costly engineering. The release of the ITC decision puts to rest any questions of whether SK Innovation did anything wrong ― they did, repeatedly, and now they must be held accountable."

SK Innovation's battery plant, the construction of which will be completed in the first half of the year. Courtesy of SK Innovation
SK Innovation's battery plant, the construction of which will be completed in the first half of the year. Courtesy of SK Innovation

SKI expressed regret, but argued that the USITC had not found that the company had stolen any of LG's technology.

The company added it will strongly ask President Joe Biden to exercise his veto power on the ruling. The U.S. president can review the ruling and alter or block the decision before April 11, after which it becomes final.

"The ITC's decision threatens to undermine the U.S. national interest in multiple dimensions. It would harm the U.S. economy by destroying thousands of high-tech green energy jobs. It would frustrate U.S. plans to protect the environment by producing batteries for electric vehicles and stationary storage," SKI said in a statement

"It would endanger U.S. national security by making us more dependent on Chinese companies in this fast-developing, critically important field. That's a lot of damage from one decision. Thankfully, it is entirely within the discretion of the Biden administration to undo it," it added.

SKI stressed that LG was continuing to obscure the actual records of the case. "Its carefully crafted statements leave out the fact that no judicial process or legal authority ― including the ITC ― has ever found that SK stole any of its technology," it said.


Baek Byung-yeul baekby@koreatimes.co.kr


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