US-trade-panel-sides-with-LG-over-SK
Shown above is the head office of LG Group situated in Seoul. LG Energy Solutions is the conglomerate’s affiliate in the promising rechargeable battery industry. Photo courtesy of LG Group

SK Innovation to face a 10-year export ban to US

SK Innovation, Korea’s rechargeable battery giant, will face a 10-year export ban for some of its lithium-ion battery products to the United States based on the decision of a U.S. trade panel.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) recently upheld its preliminary ruling issued early last year to support LG Energy Solutions in its dispute against SK Innovation.

LG Energy Solutions, spun off last December from LG Chem, contended that SK Innovation had stolen its trade secrets to develop batteries for electric vehicles (EVs).

In tandem with LG’s claims, the ITC prevented SK from exporting its EV battery-related products to the U.S. for the next 10 years. The ruling will deal a big blow to SK, which has poured money to build an EV battery factory in the U.S.

However, the panel allowed shipment of components for made-in-US products manufactured by such companies as Ford Motor, Volkswagen, and Kia.

The Biden administration has two months to review the verdict of the ITC. If the new U.S. president does not veto the ruling, it will become final.

On top of the limited exclusion order, SK would have to pay out a big amount of compensation to LG. The amount is expected to be billions of dollars.

LG asked SK to reach an out-of-court settlement as soon as possible. On top of the ITC process, LG filed lawsuits to seek after legal compensations from SK.

“The ITC decision would put a halt to the practices of stealing human resources and technologies, thus eventually help Korea strengthen its competitiveness in the battery industry,” an LG official said.

But SK said that it would not hurry because there remain legal procedures.

“We will put forth efforts to find solutions to protect the interests of our customers,” an SK official said.

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