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SK Innovation says LG Chem broke agreement

Oct 01,2019
SK Innovation slammed LG Chem for breaking a pledge the two companies made in 2014 over battery separator patents.

The two battery makers are fighting an all-out war in courts on both sides of the Pacific Ocean over intellectual property in the electric vehicle (EV) batteries. In the latest in a series of lawsuits, LG Chem last week sued SK Innovation in the U.S. District Court in Delaware for violating five patents related to EV batteries.

SK Innovation claimed Sunday that one of the five patents LG Chem had brought up was technology that LG Chem had once sued SK Innovation for using in a Korean court - and lost.

This particular technology, patented under the registration No. 775,310 in Korea and No. 7,662,517 in the United States, regarded LG’s “safety reinforced separator (SRS)” which LG explained in a Friday statement was an “original patent,” difficult to bypass when making rechargeable batteries.

According to SK Innovation, the two companies already went through a round of lawsuits between 2011 and 2014 on this particular SRS patent. In December 2011, LG Chem sued SK Innovation, saying it had infringed the KR 775,310 patent. The court ruled in favor of SK Innovation, twice, saying LG Chem’s patent wasn’t unique. After losing both cases, LG Chem suggested a settlement.

In October 2014, the two signed an agreement that they would not file lawsuits against each other relating patent infringement, damage claims or patent nullity regarding the KR 775,310 in Korea and overseas, says SK Innovation.

The contract had an expiration date of 10 years but “LG broke its promise.”

In the press release, SK Innovation included legal documents and patents to prove its point, but did not include the signed agreement because “the LG Chem CEO that signed the document is currently vice chairman of LG Group.”

On Sunday afternoon, LG Chem released a statement disputing SK Innovation’s claim, saying that the patent in the recent U.S. suit is a different one as it was registered in the United States, not Korea. The subject of the 2014 agreement was a patent registered in Korea, it added.

“Based on the principle of patent independence, patents in different countries are obtained and maintained independent from one another and the scope of patent protection rights can differ accordingly,” said LG.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]


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