The US International Trade Commission announced Monday it would extend until December 10 its investigation of the trade secret dispute between LG Chem and SK Innovation, two makers of batteries for electric vehicles.
“Today’s routine action by the International Trade Commission neither erases SK Innovation’s misappropriation of LG Chem’s trade secrets nor does it signal an outcome that might acquit this theft,” Bert C. Reiser, counsel to LG Chem, said. “Today’s delay notwithstanding, we remain extremely confident that the Commission will hold SK Innovation responsible for their theft and issue appropriate remedies to make LG Chem whole.”
In February, an administrative law judge within the Commission ruled that SKI misappropriated LG Chem’s technology and later destroyed evidence to obstruct justice. Monday’s delay in the LG Chem-SK Innovation investigation mirrors similar action last week by the Commission to extend its deadline in an unrelated investigation as federal courts manage the backlog created by the coronavirus pandemic.
In April 2019, the wholly-owned US manufacturing subsidiary of LG Chem and its parent company filed a pair of lawsuits against SK Innovation for misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with prospective economic advantage and other claims. Filed concurrently with the International Trade Commission and the United States District Court of Delaware, the suits alleged that SK Innovation accessed LG Chem’s trade secrets by hiring dozens of highly skilled employees. Further to this theft, SK used LG Chem’s proprietary information to gain market share illegally in the global electric vehicle industry.
Through discovery, it was revealed that SK Innovation had engaged in a widespread, systematic document destruction campaign to hinder the ITC’s investigation into these claims.
In February, ITC Administrative Law Judge Cameron Elliot issued an initial determination granting LG Chem’s motion for default sanctions against SK Innovation. In particular, ALJ Elliot found that the record “overwhelmingly” shows that SKI destroyed evidence that was “relevant to the issues in th[e] investigation”… “with the intent to hide evidence of trade secret misappropriation.” The ALJ further found that SKI intentionally failed to comply with his Order that SKI investigate the scope of and partially remediate its destruction of evidence. Based on these findings, the ALJ granted LG Chem’s motion, found SKI in default and held that SKI had waived its right to “contest the allegations at issue in the investigation.”
About LG Chem
LG Chem is South Korea’s largest diversified chemical company which operates four main business portfolios: Petrochemicals, Energy Solutions, Advanced Materials and Life Sciences. The chemical business manufactures a wide range of petrochemical products from high-value added to commodity goods. LG Chem also extends its chemical expertise into high-tech areas such as lithium-ion batteries, industrial & automotive materials, drugs & vaccines to deliver broad range of differentiated solutions for our customers. Throughout multiple production facilities and an extensive distribution network around worldwide, LG Chem employs approximately 40,000 people and generated sales of KRW 28.6 trillion in 2019.