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USITC ruling in LG Chem-SK Innovation battery patent fray delayed until February

January 22/2021

MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has delayed ruling on a trade secrets battle between SK Innovation and LG Chem until February 2021, according to Chemweek with reference to multiple media outlets. The decision, which could have wide-ranging implications for the electric vehicle battery market and disrupt US automakers access, comes after a default USITC judgment in an interim ruling was made in favor of LG Chem in February 2020. 

If the USITC upholds this in its final determination, SK Innovation will face a ban on exporting batteries to the US.

LG Chem first filed suit against SK Innovation in April 2019 for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortuous interference with prospective economic advantage, and other claims. The suits were filed jointly by the subsidiary LG Chem Michigan Inc. (LGCMI), and LG Chem, concurrently with the US International Trade Commission (USITC) and the US District Court of Delaware. The suits allege that defendants accessed trade secrets by SK Innovations hiring of 77 highly skilled and experienced employees from the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery division of LG Chem. These employees include dozens of engineers involved in the R&D, manufacture, and quality-assurance testing of Li-ion batteries. The lawsuits contend that a significant number of these workers engaged in the theft of LG Chems trade secrets to benefit SK Innovation in the development and manufacturing of pouch-type Li-ion batteries. LG Chem sought injunctive relief to cease any US imports of Li-ion batteries, including commercial Li-ion battery cells and modules, and bar SK Innovation from importing the manufacturing and testing equipment necessary to build Li-ion batteries, since the machinery relies on LG Chems trade secrets.

In August 2020, LG Chem lost a compensation lawsuit it filed against LG Chem in Seoul, South Korea. The court in Seoul delivered a verdict in favor of LG Chem, saying that the patent settlement both companies signed in 2014 is only effective in South Korea. The court dismissed SK Innovations claim that LG Chem should drop its lawsuits against SK Innovation in the US.

As MRC reported earlier, LG Chem, a South Korean petrochemical major, shut down its naphtha cracker in Yeosu following a fire late last year. The company said a fire broke out at its central control room at the Yosu cracker complex at around midnight local time (15:00 GMT) on 5 November, 2020. The country's largest chemical company resumed production at this cracker on 18 January, 2020. The facility can process about 1.2 million tonnes of ethylene per year (tpy).

According to MRC's DataScope report, PE imports to Russia decreased in January-November 2020 by 17% year on year and reached 569,900 tonnes. High density polyethylene (HDPE) accounted for the greatest reduction in imports. At the same time, PP imports into Russia increased by 21% year on year to about 202,000 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2020. Propylene homopolymer (homopolymer PP) accounted for the main increase in imports.

LG Chem Ltd., often referred to as LG Chemical, is the largest Korean chemical company and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It has eight domestic factories and global network of 29 business locations in 15 countries. LG Chem is a manufacturer, supplier, and exporter of petrochemical goods, IT&E Materials and Energy Solutions.
Author:Margaret Volkova
Tags:PP, PE, homopolymer PP, propylene, HDPE, ethylene, batteries, petrochemistry, LG Chem, SK Corporation, Russia, South Korea.
Category:General News
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