Ruling in trade secrets dispute delayed till 2021

Panel’s ruling postponed a second time

The U.S. International Trade Commission has again delayed ruling on a trade secrets dispute involving the massive electric-vehicle battery plant under construction in northeast Georgia.

The commission postponed until Feb. 10 its decision on the fight between two South Korean companies, SK Innovation and LG Energy Solution, formerly known as LG Chem. The ITC did not provide a reason for the delay. It previously put off the decision in October.

SK is building a $2.6 billion factory to make batteries for Ford and Volkswagen electric vehicles off I-85 in Jackson County. Georgia gave it about $300 million in state grants and other incentives.

Rival LG accused SK of hiring about 100 of its employees to gain control of its trade secrets. LG argues SK should not be allowed to operate the Georgia plant with LG’s proprietary technology.

SK said in a statement it’s confident “the final outcome will be in our favor.” LG described the delay as “routine” in a news release.

The ITC ruling can be appealed. SK has also sued LG in a separate court in a similar dispute.

State officials have warned that shutting down the SK plant would threaten thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments. The company has said it plans to hire 2,000 by 2025.