An independent investigative body under the US International Trade Commission submitted a written opinion in favor of LG Chem, which filed a motion in August accusing SK Innovation of destroying crucial evidence in the ongoing patent lawsuit between the two battery giants.
According to the USITC on Sunday, the Office of Unfair Import Investigations said it “supports” LG Chem’s motion requesting sanctions against SK Innovation.
In the written letter, OUII said that SK Innovation’s 994 battery technology was based on LG Chem’s A7 battery cell and that SK Innovation had launched a companywide campaign to destroy documents related to its knowledge of LG Chem’s A7 battery cell technology even after the court issued an order to SK Innovation in March to find and submit any such documents in its possession.
“SK Innovation had knowledge of, and were aware of details of, LG Chem’s A7 cell including its 3-sealed side pouch configuration prior to the alleged inventions claimed in the 994 patent; referenced LG Chem’s A7 cell in conceiving the alleged inventions claimed in the 994 patent; derived the inventions claimed in the 994 patent from LG Chem’s A7 cell,” OUII’s written opinion said.
In September last year, SK Innovation sued LG Chem for allegedly violating its 994 patent. The patent lawsuit has intensified lately, with LG Chem releasing a statement Sept. 6 saying that SK Innovation’s 994 patent registered in 2015 was actually based on LG Chem’s A7 battery cell developed in 2013 and that the A7 battery cell was used in the Chrysler Pacifica minivan in 2013.
SK Innovation released a response in less than five hours, saying its 994 patent was for a technology developed independently by SK Innovation and questioning why LG Chem had not patented the A7 battery cell technology if it had developed it first.
OUII’s written opinion plays a critical role in USITC decisions, as witnessed by a trade secret misappropriation case that LG Chem filed against SK Innovation in April last year. In that case, LG Chem accused SK Innovation of violating battery trade secrets, ordering the deletion of evidence shortly after the suit was filed and not properly complying with a USITC forensic order to restore the deleted information.
In November, OUII submitted a written opinion stating that it’s “reasonable to see that SK destroyed the evidence and did not comply with the USITC’s forensic order” and that “some of these actions appear intentional.” In February, the USITC made a default judgment against SK Innovation for trade secrecy infringement. A final ruling in that case is expected Oct. 26.
By Kim Byung-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)