Police raided SK Innovation offices on Sept. 17 regarding a complaint filed by LG Chem over the leaks of its electric vehicle battery technologies. The conflict between the two sides has worsened as the police searched SK Innovation's main office and labs for evidence just one day after a meeting between their CEOs.
The Seoul Regional Police Agency's International Crime Investigation Unit said on Sept. 17 that its investigators seized materials in SK Innovation's head office in Seorin-dong, Jongno-gu. The raid was made as LG Chem filed a complaint against SK Innovation with the Seoul Police Agency in May for violating the law on the prevention of industrial technology leaks. LG Chem asserted that the company's confidential materials had been leaked to SK Innovation. Police investigators are looking into whether SK Innovation violated the Act on Preventing Unfair Competition and Protecting Trade Secrets.
They will call SK Innovation officials for questioning after analyzing the seized materials.
The two companies tried to reach a compromise through a meeting between LG Chem vice chairman Shin Hak-chul and SK Innovation president Kim Joon on Sept. 16. But Shin and Kim failed to hammer out a deal at the meeting. Observers say the search and seizure has virtually dashed hopes for a compromise.
"The raid indicates that police have obtained sufficient evidence of SK Innovation's crimes through a full-fledged investigation," LG Chem said in a press release.
LG Chem disparaged SK Innovation, saying that it undermined the market order by taking advantage of the trade secrets of an industry leader. "We hope that this investigation will bring light to the illegal and unfair practices of SK Innovation and promote fair competition that can boost the Korean battery industry's competitiveness," LG Chem added.
SK Innovation expressed its regret over the continued dispute, stressing that it will not stop efforts to resolve it. "We have sought to address this issue through formal and informal talks so far and our will has not changed," SK Innovation said. "Our president Kim met with LG Chem vice chairman Shin in order to resolve this problem through dialogue.”
SK Innovation said that litigation between large corporations is not something that people praise, whatever the reasons may be. They asked LG Chem to refrain from waging a war of public opinion.
“It is true that we hired some former LG Chem employees, and we feel sorry about that,” SK Innovation said. “But we had many applicants for job openings at our company then. We did not intend to hire former LG Chem employees only.”