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Offices of SK Innovation are raided on rival’s charge

Sept 18,2019

Police raided the headquarters of SK Innovation Tuesday, the latest in a long-running battle with LG Chem over trade secrets.

After the raid, LG Chem released a statement saying that it had reported SK Innovation and its human resources staff to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency in May.

LG Chem accused SK Innovation of violating domestic laws on the prevention of technology leaks.

Since April this year, LG Chem and SK Innovation have been embroiled in a battle over intellectual property in the United States. LG Chem filed a complaint against SK Innovation with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), accusing it of stealing trade secrets by hiring former LG Chem employees.

In response, SK Innovation sued LG Chem in a Korean court in June, claiming defamation. A month later, it filed another case accusing LG Chem and LG Electronics of infringing on its intellectual property rights. LG Chem and SK Innovation are the No. 1 and No. 3 rechargeable battery makers in Korea, respectively.

LG claims that SK Innovation unlawfully hired almost 100 of its former employees and stole much of its core technologies and trade secrets from information disclosed on application forms and during interviews.

The company also said it has found on its own messenger system that one of its former employees coerced other workers to spill LG Chem secrets before moving to SK Innovation.

“The circumstances show that [SK] strategically designed its application process to illegally acquire core technologies and trade secrets on rechargeable batteries,” LG said in a Tuesday statement. “The rival company used our trade secrets to aggressively launch business activities and disturb fair trade.”

On the same day, SK Innovation said that it has never targeted any specific applicant in the hiring process, adding that the 100 employees it hired only equals 10 percent of all LG Chem workers that submitted applications.

It said it is regrettable for the dispute to continue in this manner, urging dialogue to find a solution as the ongoing battery war could hurt both sides.

“SK Innovation has officially and unofficially emphasized resolving the dispute through conversation, and that vow remains unchanged,” the company said in a statement. “The meeting between the two CEOs held was made in relation to this purpose.”

The CEOs met face-to-face Monday to hash out their differences, but no progress was achieved.

BY KO JUN-TAE, SONG KYOUNG-SON [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]


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