LG Chem says SK Innovation has to pay up

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LG Chem says SK Innovation has to pay up

LG Chem Vice Chair and CEO Shin Hak-cheol gives an opening speech at the annual general meeting on Thursday. [LG CHEM]

LG Chem Vice Chair and CEO Shin Hak-cheol gives an opening speech at the annual general meeting on Thursday. [LG CHEM]

 
LG Chem CEO Shin Hak-cheol has reiterated that the company will not back down from its demand for compensation from SK Innovation in the ongoing battery brawl that saw SK accused of stealing trade secrets from LG.
 
Since the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of LG in February, attention has been on whether the two long-term rivals could reach an agreement that would allow SK to continue operating its battery business in the United States. 
 
Without a deal or the last-minute intervention of U.S. President Joe Biden, SK will be banned from importing batteries and components to the United States for 10 years, with a few very small exceptions.
 
Some U.S. and Korean politicians have urged the two battery suppliers to reach some sort of agreement considering the impact a ban would have on their EV clients and Korea’s stance in the EV battery market. 
 
LG Chem — before its battery unit was spun-off earlier this year — and SK Innovation were the second and fifth largest EV battery suppliers in the world last year, according to SNE Research.
 
Shin, however, told shareholders Thursday that the matter “should not fizzle out.” LG Chem is the parent company of LG Energy Solutions, the spun-off battery-making unit.
 
“We will respond sternly to make sure the company receives a reasonable amount of compensation compared to our damage,” he said during LG Chem’s annual general meeting on Thursday.
 
“Based on my 30 years of experience, it is rare for the ITC to provide such a firm explanation for a ruling — one that includes mentions of the defendant’s corporate culture.”
 
In a statement disclosed earlier this month, the ITC said SK Innovation could not have independently developed its lithium-ion batteries for EVs without LG’s trade secrets, and severely condemned the smaller battery maker’s efforts to destroy evidence.
 
While Shin suggested this was proof the ITC was taking the matter seriously, he added that SK was still refusing to acknowledge the fact that it misappropriated LG’s battery technology.
 
SK Innovation has stuck to the claim that the ITC’s ruling was focused on destroying evidence, not on theft of trade secrets, which it says lacks evidence. The company’s board also concluded in a March meeting that its defeat was due to a lack of experience in international lawsuits.  
 
“It is regrettable to see [SK] not accepting a ruling that comes from the most respected organization in international trade rules and merely treating its loss as a result of experience,” added Shin.
 
SK Innovation has just a couple of weeks left in which Biden can exercise a veto to the ITS ruling. His right to revoke the decision is effective until April 11.  
 
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON  [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]  
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