According to media reports, the negotiations between SK Innovation and LG Chem‘s LG Energy Solution in a dispute over claims that SK Innovation misappropriated trade secrets has resulted in a settlement.
The are no details yet, so we rely only on brief info:
“Two South Korean electric-vehicle battery makers reached a last-minute settlement in a bitter U.S. trade dispute, said people familiar with the deal, sparing President Joe Biden from choosing between undermining intellectual property rights or dealing a politically toxic blow to his climate agenda.” – Bloomberg
It’s positive news, as SK Innovation’s EV battery business was basically banned in the U.S. by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) for a period of 10 years (with some time-limited exceptions), which would potentially negatively impact the EV industry, including:
- Ford EV program (Ford F-150 Electric)
- Volkswagen EV program (MEB-based EVs)
- SK Innovation’s $2.6 billion investment in two battery factories (21.5 GWh total) at a site in Commerce, Georgia:
- the first: 9.8 GWh was expected to be ready in 2021 (mass production from 2022). According to Bloomberg, it is nearing completion and already making battery samples
- the second: 11.7 GWh scheduled for 2023
For sure it was not an easy chess game. According to previous media reports, SK Innovation was not willing to pay the amount demanded by LG Chem and hoped that President Joe Biden’s administration would reject the ITC ruling. The settlement was achieved just ahead of the 60-day period, available for eventual rejection.
Without the settlement or reversing the ITC ruling, SK Innovation probably would retire from the U.S. battery business.
We guess that as long as LG Chem’s LG Energy Solution will be compensated for the “misappropriated trade secrets” in a voluntary settlement, the story will have a happy ending.
Now, let’s wait for the official statement from all parties, and maybe some details.