LG, SK battery makers agree to drop lawsuits

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LG, SK battery makers agree to drop lawsuits

SK Innovation and LG Chem said yesterday that they had reached an agreement to end their patent lawsuit regarding inorganic material-coated separators, a key part in midsize to large rechargeable batteries.

The two sides yesterday said that they are withdrawing all lawsuits they have filed to the Patent Court of Korea and the Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board since 2011, saying they both are seeking long-term growth in the industry.

In the agreement, the two companies said they would not file any lawsuits over patents or seek damages for the next 10 years in Korea or overseas. Instead, both companies promised that they would cooperate and engage in fair competition in the electric vehicle battery business.

“We found common ground in that each company focusing on its own business is better than focusing on an unnecessary lawsuit,” said LG Chem Vice President Kim Myung-hwan, who leads the company’s battery R&D center.

Kim Hong-dae, head of SK Innovation’s new business department, said: “With this agreement, the tiresome patent war has finally come to an end and we will focus on expanding our presence in the global market.”

The war between SK Innovation, the holding company of SK Group’s energy business affiliates, and LG Chem, the nation’s largest chemical company, started in December 2011 when LG Chem filed a lawsuit against SK Innovation claiming that the company had infringed on a patent for the inorganic material-coated separator.

SK Innovation retaliated by filing a request to the Korea Intellectual Property Trial and Appeal Board asking that it revoke LG Chem’s patent for EV battery separators, saying it lacked “novelty” compared to the prior technology.

In August 2012, the board decided to revoke LG Chem’s patent. The affiliate of LG Group appealed the decision to the patent court, but the decision from the tribunal was upheld last year.

The situation started to cool down this May, when LG Chem dropped its appeal of a ruling by the Seoul District Court in February that SK Innovation has not infringed on LG Chem’s patent.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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