Kemp calls for Biden to overturn ruling threatening SK battery plant

SK Innovation President and CEO Jun Kim, left, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Gov. Brian Kemp, and Jaewon Chey, SK Group Executive Vice Chairman, joined in a 2019 groundbreaking ceremony for a new battery factory in Jackson County.   Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
SK Innovation President and CEO Jun Kim, left, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Gov. Brian Kemp, and Jaewon Chey, SK Group Executive Vice Chairman, joined in a 2019 groundbreaking ceremony for a new battery factory in Jackson County. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

Patent theft ruling jeopardizes $2.6 billion plant in Jackson County

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday called for President Joe Biden to intervene in a patent dispute that jeopardizes the future of a $2.6 billion electric vehicle battery plant being built in Georgia.

Wednesday’s ruling by the International Trade Commission — that SK Innovation stole trade secrets from rival LG Energy Solutions — puts “SK’s significant investment in 2,600 clean energy jobs and innovative manufacturing in peril,” Kemp said.

SK plans to manufacture electric vehicle batteries for Volkswagen and Ford at a massive factory under construction in Jackson County, one of the biggest economic development projects in Georgia history. To win the project, the state provided $300 million in grants, free land and other incentives to the South Korean company.

The ITC ruled that SK could still make batteries for Volkswagen for two years and Ford for four years. After that, the ruling bans SK from importing the needed battery components for 10 years.

By law, the U.S. president has 60 days to review the ruling and could alter or block it. After that, SK could appeal to a federal court. It also could reach a settlement with LG.

Biden and his administration “have the opportunity to support thousands of hardworking Georgians – and their communities – who would benefit from SK Innovation’s continued success in our state,” Kemp said in a statement.

SK has said that the ITC ruling “could have a serious adverse impact on President Biden’s policies to combat climate change and expand the electrification of the U.S. auto fleet.”

LG said SK can remedy its unlawful conduct “by adequately compensating” LG. It added that it “wants to work” with Kemp to help the plant and its employees, while upholding the rule of law.

LG makes electric vehicle batteries in a factory in Detroit and has another plant under construction in Ohio.

ExploreTrade secret theft puts $2.6 billion Ga. plant future at risk

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