Back in February, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled against Ford F-150 Electric battery supplier SK Innovation in a complaint from rival LG Chem that it misappropriated trade secrets related to EV battery technology. However, the ITC was also reviewing another complaint from 2019 that SK infringed on four of LG’s patents, and it has now cleared the South Korean battery manufacturer of any wrongdoing in that regard.
SK noted that it fully expected the ruling in its favor, noting that it has spent the last several years developing its own lithium-ion battery technology. Meanwhile, LG said that “the ITC’s decision is regrettable, but we respect its decision.” Though the ruling is a separate matter from the misappropriation of trade secrets dispute, it is possible that the former has some bearing on the outcome of the latter.
The clock is ticking on that matter as SK seems to be banking on the possibility that President Joe Biden might overturn the ITC’s ruling by an April 11th deadline. SK and LG can also come to a settlement that would nullify the ruling, but so far, these talks have not gone well as SK attempts to preserve its plans to open a manufacturing plant in Georgia. Most recently, SK threatened to pull its entire business from the U.S. if Biden doesn’t act.
The ITC ruling allows SK to remain the Ford F-150 Electric battery supplier for four years, and until that time, the company can legally import lithium-ion batteries, battery cells, battery modules, and battery packs into America. After that, Ford would have to find a new battery supplier for the F-150 EV.
LG Chem is demanding that SK Innovation pay penalties of up to 3 million won ($2.462 million USD), while SK is proposing a settlement of less than $1 million won ($880k USD).