The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) and relevant agencies recently held a meeting regarding the lawsuit filed by LG Chem with a U.S. court against SK Innovation over the alleged trade secret infringement, according to the government and related industry sources on May 19. The meeting was intended to grasp the current situation and prevent the leakage of Korea’s battery technologies since it is a suit proceeding in the United States.
In particular, the government checked whether the trade secrets and technologies involved in the litigation between the two firms in the United States belonged to the “national core technology” under the current Act on Prevention of Divulgence and Protection of Industrial Technology. If a technology is designated as a national core technology, information disclosure regarding it is strictly restricted.
LG Chem filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and a local court in Delaware last month, accusing SK Innovation of stealing its battery technology. The company said the main reason why it filed a petition in the United States was that the U.S. court has the “discovery” system, which forces a party to a suit to submit any information and document related to the litigation when another party makes a request. This allows litigation representatives of both parties to access evidence materials and documents. Even when a party asks for trade secrets, the other party is obligated to submit relevant documents to the court.
LG Chem will ask the government to grant approval for national core technology exportation in order to submit its documents to the ITC. Since the battery technology is chosen as a national core technology, the government’s approval is needed to provide technical content abroad. The government is planning to hold an industrial technology protection committee under the MOTIE and conduct the reviews when it receives LG Chem’s request.
In this regard, the government is worried that Korea’s battery technology, which is among the best in the world, can be leaked due to an overseas lawsuit. An official from the legal community said, “There is a possibility that the technology could be leaked to China through the law firms hired by the two companies.”
With the government promoting electric vehicle (EV) battery as a second semiconductor, it can’t but have a cautious attitude about providing technical know-how overseas. In fact, the amount of EV battery orders won by the nation’s three firms surpassed 110 trillion won (US$92.01 billion), trailing those of semiconductors.