LG Chem Ltd., the South Korean electric-car battery giant, sued local rival SK Innovation Co. in the U.S. for allegedly stealing trade secrets by poaching scores of highly knowledgeable employees.
The lawsuits, filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the District Court of Delaware, alleges SK hired 77 employees from LG, some of whom stole trade secrets that helped SK develop a pouch-style battery favored by automakers and the consumer electronics industry, according to a statement from LG.
LG, ranked as the world’s second-biggest manufacturer of lithium-ion battery cells by BloombergNEF, said it’s seeking restrictions on SK’s operations and further use of LG’s trade secrets.
SK, whose customers include Volkswagen AG, hired workers through “a transparent and public process,” it said in an statement. The company is adding plants in the U.S., China and Hungary under an expansion plan that’s aimed at catapulting it into the industry’s top three.
The two companies in 2014 agreed to end a separate legal battle after LG filed a suit against SK over car battery technology.