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U.S. ITC to Review Default Judgment against SK Innovation
Initial Determination Unlikely to Be Reversed
U.S. ITC to Review Default Judgment against SK Innovation
  • By Michael Herh
  • April 20, 2020, 11:53
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The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has accepted SK Innovation's request to review an initial determination regarding the battery trade secret infringement lawsuit between the company and LG Chem.

The ITC announced on April 17 (local time) that it will review the initial determination it announced in February this year “in its entirety.”

At the time, it made a default judgment against SK Innovation, saying that SK Innovation destroyed evidence that it stole LG Chem’s trade secrets about lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.

Industry watchers say that the ITC’s acceptance of the request does not mean that it will reverse its initial determination.

The ITC decides a full review of its initial determinations for about 15 percent of the requests for reviews. For a review of its initial ruling, the ITC has asked the two companies to present data regarding the evidence that is alleged to have been destroyed, the consequences of SK Innovation’s alleged use of LG Chem's trade secrets, and the economic damage LG Chem suffered due to the alleged trade secret theft.

Industry experts believe that an exceptionally early default judgment is the background of the commission’s decision to review the initial determination in its entirety. The ITC has to decide, before making the final judgment in October, on such matters as whether SK Innovation violated Article 337 of the U.S. Customs Act, what remedy measures the company can take and how much money it has to deposit. Depending on the final ruling, SK Innovation's battery-related parts and equipment may be prohibited from being imported to the United States, but industry watchers say that the ITC does not have enough grounds for making such a decision.

However, there has been no case since 2010 where the ITC reversed its initial determinations through a review. For this reason, industry watchers say that the two companies will ultimately have to settle the legal battle out of the court.

LG Chem has also filed a trade secret infringement lawsuit against SK Innovation with the U.S. Federal District Court in Delaware. The two companies have also filed patent infringement lawsuits against each other with the U.S. ITC and Delaware Court.