SK Innovation stole a multi-billion dollar technology and later conspired to obstruct justice by destroying evidence of its theft in bad faith. Now, they'd have you believe they've done nothing wrong and are somehow a victim of gratuitous litigation. But the facts speak for themselves.
SKI MYTH 1: THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION'S FINAL DETERMINATION AGAINST SK INNOVATION IS A THREAT TO GEORGIA JOBS
REALITY CHECK: SKI'S GEORGIA PLANT CAN MANUFACTURE BATTERIES FOR AT LEAST FOUR YEARS. BEYOND THAT, IT IS UP TO SKI TO LICENSE THE TECHNOLOGY IT STOLE.
For the last two years, the US International Trade Commission was investigating claims that SK had stolen LG Energy Solution's trade secrets. In February 2021, the agency sided with LG and issued a ten-year exclusion order blocking the importation, domestic production, and sale of SK batteries that unlawfully relies on stolen technology.
Crucially, however, the ITC provided a four-year term in which SK can still produce batteries at its Georgia plant. That exception is important because it ensures no interruption in America’s electric vehicle market nd provides time for the two companies to settle the dispute.
As long as there is continued demand for electric vehicles, there will be a need to manufacture batteries at the Georgia plant, whether under SK Innovation's name or another battery maker. But SK Innovation's illegal acts, which include obstruction of justice, deserve serious penalties. And the USITC has provided those in the interest of every American innovator.
SKI MYTH 2: SKI DID NOTHING WRONG BY HIRING ITS COMPETITOR'S EMPLOYEES AND THE USITC HAS FOUND NO EVIDENCE OF TRADE SECRET MISAPPROPRIATION.
REALITY CHECK: A FEDERAL JUDGE RULED THAT SKI'S WIDESPREAD EVIDENCE DESTRUCTION WAS DONE IN BAD FAITH TO HIDE TRADE SECRET MISAPPROPRIATION
In February 2020, a USITC administrative law judge sided with LG Chem through a default judgement. That decision was affirmed by the full Commission a year later in February 2021.
In the 2020 initial determination, the judge wrote, "the record shows destruction or loss of documents occurring after SKI received notice of the complaint underlying this investigation—i.e., after its obligation to preserve evidence began. ... That evidence also shows an awareness on the part of SKI that employees moving over from LG Chem were imbued with knowledge of LG Chem’s battery technology, and in certain instances, were placed in similar roles within SKI."
The judge added later that "clear and convincing evidence shows that SKI’s destruction of documents ... was done with a culpable state of mind and with the intent to hide evidence of trade secret misappropriation. ... [T]he evidence recounted above shows SKI deliberately sought to gain LG Chem proprietary information through the interviews and subsequent employment of LG Chem personnel, and then, after receiving that information, distributed it amongst its teams with the instruction to use the information for their own work.”