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Battery battle continues as SK files new suit in Seoul

Oct 23,2019
SK Innovation sued electric vehicle (EV) battery rival LG Chem, again, in the Seoul Central District Court, saying LG breached a written pledge regarding battery separator patents.

The move, announced Tuesday, is a counterattack to LG Chem’s lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Delaware in late September for violating five EV battery patents registered in the country - which LG claims are “original patents” difficult to avoid when making rechargeable batteries.

Since April, the two battery makers have been fighting an all-out war in courts on both sides of the Pacific over intellectual property on EV batteries.

SK’s latest take on LG regards three of five patents that are linked to the battery separator, which divide the negative and positive anodes.

According to SK, the two companies agreed in 2014 not to sue each other in Korea or overseas for infringement of patent KR 775,310. The settlement was offered by LG after it lost legal cases between 2011 and 2013 accusing SK of violating the same patent, SK says. This agreement was to last 10 years, but “LG broke its promise.”

SK’s Tuesday suit seeks damages of 1 billion won ($853,000) - 500 million won for violations in the domestic market and 500 million for the U.S. market - and urges LG to voluntarily withdraw the patent infringement accusation on three U.S. patents. These three are equivalents to patent KR 775,310 and two derivative patents of technologies based on the KR 775,310 registered in Korea.

“LG Chem is excessively filing law suits to obstruct a stable business - now, it’s gone as far as to bring up an issue in which we agreed not to engage in additional suits,” SK said in a statement.

On the same day, LG Chem fired back with a statement arguing that the agreement in question only regards Korean patents and not corresponding foreign patents. It is still in full compliance with the written contract of 2014, LG said.

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

LG also explained that the 2014 settlement said there would be no dispute “overseas” exclusively regarding KR 775,310.

“In licenses or agreements, the representative way to decide on the scope is using patent numbers or specifying technology or products. The settlement in question used numbers, so for patents with a different registration numbers, the contract has no effect,” LG said.

It also challenged SK’s claim it had lost lawsuits in 2011. It said it did lose once, and appealed, but dropped the case before a ruling. It added that SK had also lost and that the two companies signed the contract as a result of the suits.

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


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