LG Chem gets a boost in battery patent lawsuit against SK Innovation

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LG Chem gets a boost in battery patent lawsuit against SK Innovation

Headquarters of SK Innovation and LG Chem in Seoul. [YONHAP]

Headquarters of SK Innovation and LG Chem in Seoul. [YONHAP]

The legal battle between Korean battery makers has reignited after an investigative organization within the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Friday indicated it was supporting LG Chem over SK Innovation in an ongoing patent lawsuit. 
LG Chem announced on Sunday that the Office of Unfair Import Investigations (OUII) had submitted a response to the ITC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge Charles E. Bullock on LG Chem’s motion to sanction SK Innovation for its spoliation of evidence.
LG Chem and SK Innovation have two ongoing lawsuits in the United States. One, filed by LG Chem in April last year, is on electric battery trade secrets, while the other, filed by SK Innovation and subject to a countersuit by LG Chem in September last year, pertains to electric vehicle (EV) battery patent infringement.  
The commission's investigative staff publicly announced Friday that it had submitted a response asking the judge to sanction SK Innovation and SK Battery America for the spoliation of evidence.
LG Chem has argued that SK Innovation knew details of LG Chem’s A7 cell prior to “alleged inventions” that SK Innovation patented in 2015. LG Chem claims the A7 batteries were first sold to carmaker Chrysler in 2013.
LG Chem has "raised a number of affirmative defenses in response to SKI’s [SK Innovation's] Complainant in this Investigation," the investigative staff wrote in the statement. "They include the invalidity for failure to name the correct inventor on the 994 Patent and unclean hands due to spoliation of evidence."
LG Chem said SK Innovation was found to have deleted emails mentioning LG Chem, even after the ITC judge ordered digital forensic inspection of SK Innovation’s computer systems. 
SK Innovation on Sunday denied having deleted relevant documents, saying that the forensic examination shows that all the key documents were saved and submitted to the ITC as evidence.
SK Innovation also argued that its opinion against LG Chem's argument on the patent infringement lawsuit was not reflected in the OUII response made public Friday. 
“SK Innovation submitted written opinion on LG Chem’s request for sanctions on Sept. 11, which is the day OUII released the statement,” the company said.  
ITC’s final determination on misappropriation of trade secrets is scheduled to be announced on Oct. 26. ITC’s determination on battery patent infringement is expected to conclude next year.  
BY JIN MIN-JI   [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]

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