Battery war between SK and LG goes into new gearThe SK-LG battery war is accelerating with new litigation filed in the United States.
SK Innovation announced Friday that it filed a lawsuit against LG Chem and LG Electronics in an undisclosed U.S. court for infringing certain battery patents.
This is the latest round in an industrial slugfest between LG Chem, Korea’s largest battery maker, and SK Innovation, its third largest.
It began in late April when LG told the U.S. International Trade Commission that SK Innovation stole trade secrets and battery know-how by hiring former employees.
The ITC started an investigation in late May.
SK also sued LG Chem in the Seoul Central District Court in June.
The new suit announced Friday is SK’s first direct challenge to LG Chem’s U.S. business and also an escalation in that it is suing LG Electronics, the largest affiliate in the LG Group.
SK filed suit against LG Chem and a U.S. affiliate based in Michigan in U.S. federal court.
It also filed a complaint with the ITC. A suit against LG Electronics will be filed too - all three actions alleging battery patent infringement.
The company claims it was aware of the patent infringements for a long time but had refrained from going to court because it wanted an “amicable settlement.”
SK could not specifically reveal which patents were infringed until the U.S. court decides to hear the case, but promised to disclose details later.
“Until now, we engaged in various efforts to find alternative ways to resolve the issue, for the sake of promoting cooperation among local battery makers and the need to join forces in coping with Japan’s trade restrictions - but we failed to find a resolution from these efforts,” SK said.
LG Chem denied this claim, saying that SK had never officially requested a meeting. It a statement released Friday afternoon, it labeled SK’s lawsuit in the United States a “needless” attempt to create anxiety and counter a suit it filed against SK in April in the District Court of Delaware, where SK’s U.S. corporation is located, for alleged stealing of battery secrets.
LG also questioned whether SK was in “full understanding of the situation,” highlighting that LG has 14 times more patents registered globally for battery technology.
It quoted patent registration figures: 16,685 for LG and 1,135 for SK.
The market leader also fired back saying it had tried to stay away from attacking the competition over patent issues, but warned it too will “consider legal action on patent infringement if [SK] continues to mislead.”
“If [SK] is ready to apologize, promise to prevent a reoccurrence and discuss compensation in a serious manner, we will be always ready to engage in a conversation,” LG Chem said.
LG Electronics, on other hand, refused to comment adding that the company “does not see the necessity to respond.”
Despite the legal dispute, both companies’ shares rose. SK Innovation stock on Friday closed 5.77 percent higher, while LG Chem shares were up 1.69 percent.
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [email@example.com]
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