US trade watchdog clears SK Innovation of infringing LG Energy Solution patents

by Margaret Lau
Employees of SK Battery America participate in a Quick Start training programme ahead of launching operations in Georgia. Photo: SKI
The US trade watchdog has issued a preliminary ruling that clears South Korea’s SK Innovation of violating patents held by its battery-manufacturing rival, LG Energy Solution.

The US International Trade Commission’s initial ruling is separate to one it issued earlier this year – which included an import ban on SK Innovation (SKI) over claims the company had misappropriated trade secrets from LG Energy Solution (LES) related to electric vehicle battery technology.

However, SKI’s supporters are calling on President Joe Biden to overturn the earlier import ban before it is due to take effect later this month – and the Commission’s latest finding, on the patents case, could now be an influencing factor for the Biden administration.

SKI said today the preliminary determination, by Commission administrative law judge Dee Lord, "further demonstrates the unique technological advancements of (our) lithium-ion battery technology”.

'Regrettable decision'

Judge Lord’s decision remains subject to review by the full Commission and a final determination is expected in August.

LES issued a statement saying the Commission’s announcement "is regrettable, but we respect its decision”.

Last month, SKI’s audit committee ordered the company to establish "a complete global compliance system”, in the wake of the pending imports ban.

Ford and Volkswagen are among companies that have warned of the impact of the imports ban on their supply chains. Lawmakers in Georgia have also expressed concern about future investment in the state, where SKI subsidiary SK Battery America is building a battery production facility.

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