WASHINGTON–()–The US International Trade Commission announced Wednesday it would extend until February 10, 2021 its investigation of the trade secret dispute between LG Energy Solution, the electric battery innovator formerly known as LG Chem, and SK Innovation.

“Today’s routine delay by the International Trade Commission is just that—routine, and follows at least 50 delays in 22 other investigations this year by the agency since March,” Bert C. Reiser, counsel to LG Energy Solution, said. “The only formal action by the Commission and its investigative staff in this case has been to rebuke SK Innovation for its trade secret theft and deliberate destruction of evidence. We’re confident that this will continue and LG Energy Solution will be made whole at last.”

Background

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.”

In December 2020, LG Chem spun off its electric battery division into a new wholly-owned subsidiary, LG Energy Solution, which now owns the trade secrets at dispute.

For more information, please visit https://www.lgensol.com/en/index

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