FILE PHOTO: The logo of SK Innovation is seen in front of its headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean battery maker SK Innovation Co Ltd (096770.KS) on Friday said it plans to sue compatriot LG Chem Ltd (051910.KS) and its U.S. subsidiary in the United States over alleged patent infringement related to electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
SK Innovation said in a statement it also planned to file a separate lawsuit against LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS) in the United States, claiming the latter produced EV battery modules and packs with the unauthorized use of SK Innovation’s patents.
SK Innovation said it is still making legal preparations to file the lawsuits against LG Chem and LG Chem Michigan Inc through the U.S. International Trade Commission.
An LG Electronics spokeswoman said the company was checking details of the matter but felt “no need” to respond to SK’s claims. LG Chem did not have an immediate comment.
SK Innovation’s legal battle against bigger rival LG Chem comes after the latter sued SK Innovation in the United States for alleged theft of trade secrets by hiring former employees.
“These lawsuits are not relevant to LG Chem’s lawsuit against us accusing misappropriation of trade secrets, but they are rightful lawsuits to protect our intellectual property,” YS Yoon, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, said in a statement.
SK Innovation, South Korea’s biggest oil refiner, is a latecomer to an EV battery market led by LG Chem and Samsung SDI Co Ltd (006400.KS) as well as Japan’s Panasonic Corp (6752.T). It started mass production in 2012 with customers including Germany’s Daimler AG (DAIGn.DE) and Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE).
If the court finds in favor of SK Innovation, LG Chem will no longer be able to sell affected battery products.
Such legal feuds could weaken South Korean battery makers at a time of heightened global competition to the extent that the government may even act as mediator to secure a swift resolution, one industry source told Reuters.
Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Ju-min Park; Editing by Christopher Cushing