U.S. ITC delays decision on LG Chem, SK Innovation trade secret case

FILE PHOTO: The logo of LG Chem is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

WASHINGTON/SEOUL (Reuters) - The United States International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesday delayed a decision in a trade secrets case involving South Korean battery makers LG Chem and SK Innovation to Feb. 10.

LG Chem, an EV battery supplier for Tesla and General Motors, filed its trade complaints against SK Innovation last year in the United States over allegations of trade secret theft, seeking to block SK from producing battery cells in the United States and importing the components necessary to make the cells. SK denied wrongdoing. The decision had been expected on Thursday.

An adverse ruling by the ITC could lead to an import ban on SK Innovation’s batteries and necessary components, potentially causing setbacks for Volkswagen and Ford Motor as they move to build new electric vehicles.

SK Innovation is building its first battery factory in Georgia which is set to begin production in 2022 and could be affected by an adverse ruling. The factory with capacity of 9.8 GWh is intended to serve Volkswagen’s EV production in neighboring Tennessee.

In February, the ITC made a preliminary ruling in favor of LG Chem, which has since split off its battery business as LG Energy Solution.

The ITC did not disclose the reason for the delay.

“We will continue to participate in the lawsuit faithfully and decisively,” LG Energy Solution said in a statement.

SK Innovation said the company would continue to participate in the lawsuit regardless of the delay.

“As the lawsuit is set to extend into the third year, SK Innovation hopes that the two companies could make a wise decision to end the dispute promptly to resolve uncertainties and devote ourselves to do business,” it said in a statement.

Reporting by David Shepardson and Heekyong Yang; editing by Chris Reese and Richard Pullin