It may not sound as exciting as a battery fire or a new electric race car, but this week’s news could be critically important for the Korean battery market. The Korea Times reported that SK Innovation has won a patent lawsuit against LG Chem, the world’s biggest player in batteries. Last December, LG filed a lawsuit alleging that SK stole its patents for lithium-ion battery separators. SK countersued, and the Korea Intellectual Property Tribunal finally decided to nullify LG’s patent. It’s uncertain whether LG will pay royalties to its rival while appealing the ruling.
“As an appeals court normally approves the ruling by the KIPO chances are good for SK Innovation to be declared the victor in the patent dispute. But this case also appears different because it’s highly sensitive,” a patent expert in Seoul told the Korea Times.
LG Chem supplies batteries to global car makers including GM and Renault. It has opened a manufacturing plant in the US and plans to build another in Europe. SK Innovation hopes to challenge LG’s lead in the market, and has agreed with German car parts supplier Continental to invest several hundred million euros in a joint venture to develop lithium-ion battery technology for EVs.