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2nd-round lawsuit between two battery giants starts in US

LG Chem, one of the world’s top battery suppliers for electric cars, brought its cross-city rival SK Innovation to a U.S. court, claiming theft of its trade secrets.

LG Chem said that it filed suits with the United States International Trade Commission and the United States District Court of Delaware early this week.

LG alleges that SK accessed its trade secrets by hiring 77 of its experienced employees in the lithium ion battery division over the past two years.

The Seoul-based plaintiff insisted that its internal audit shows that some of the employees openly conspired to steal its trade secrets.

“SK Innovation has taken LG Chem’s highly skilled engineers and other critical business services staff, thereby gaining access to LG Chem’s highly valued lithium ion battery trade secrets,” LG Vice Chairman Shin Hak-cheol said in a statement.

“As a direct consequence of that theft, SK Innovation has begun manufacturing and selling limitation Li-ion batteries to LG Chem’s customers and prospects across the world.”

The chief executive added that “SK Innovation’s blatant disregard for the rule of law damages the integrity of the free market and disrespects the innovators whose blood and sweat created a technology that’s proven vital to a greener world.”

In response, SK said that its technology is more advanced than that of LG, vowing that it will clarify allegations raised by LG via legal procedures.

2nd suit in two years

This is not the first legal battle between the two battery giants. Back in 2017, LG filed a lawsuit against SK in Korea to eventually win early this year.

Hence, LG seems to be confident that the U.S. suit will end in its favor. It claims to have evidence of its former employees conspiring with SK.

If LG wins the case once again, it would weigh greatly on SK as the former is asking for injunctive relief to block the latter from importing its battery cells and modules in the U.S.

SK currently rolls out electric vehicle batteries only in Korea. It plans to begin mass production of the lucrative products in its Hungary and U.S. factories in only 2020 and 2022, apiece.

SK has tried hard to strengthen its footing in the electric vehicle battery business, which is dubbed as “the second semiconductor industry.”


The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at voc200@gmail.com or 82-2-6956-6698.