Ruling delayed on Korean battery dispute

Aerial photo shows SK Innovation's $2.6 billion construction site in Commerce on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. The 2.4 million-square-foot plant, located next to Interstate 85 in Jackson County, could eventually employ up to 2,600 workers. Georgia gave SK one of the biggest incentive packages in state history to locate there, including $300 million in grants, tax breaks and free land. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Aerial photo shows SK Innovation's $2.6 billion construction site in Commerce on Wednesday, September 30, 2020. The 2.4 million-square-foot plant, located next to Interstate 85 in Jackson County, could eventually employ up to 2,600 workers. Georgia gave SK one of the biggest incentive packages in state history to locate there, including $300 million in grants, tax breaks and free land. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Federal agency postpones decision until December on trade secrets case

A federal agency has postponed until December a decision on whether a Korean company that’s building a multibillion-dollar battery plant in Jackson County stole a rival’s trade secrets.

The U.S. International Trade Commission said that it will issue a ruling in the legal dispute on Dec. 10. The ruling had been expected on Monday, and the Washington-based panel did not provide a reason for the delay. The commission’s ruling can be appealed.

The case could have a huge impact on one of the largest economic development projects in state history. South Korea’s SK Innovation plans to open a $2.6 billion factory that will make batteries for electric vehicles made by Ford and Volkswagen. Georgia gave the company $300 million in grants, free land and other incentives.

Another South Korean company, LG Chem, sued SK Innovation last year. LG Chem said about 100 of its employees were hired by SK Innovations in order for the company to gain access to proprietary battery technology.

State officials warned the ITC that Georgia could lose thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investments if SK loses the case. In the worst-case scenario, some officials have said that SK may be forced to abandon the project.

SK “remains confident in the merits of our case and that the final outcome will be in our favor,” spokesman Joe Guy Collier said in an emailed statement.

Likewise, Bert Reiser, an attorney for LG Chem, said his client expects a favorable ruling that "will hold SK Innovation responsible for their theft and issue appropriate remedies to make LG Chem whole.”

Federal authorities have arrested unauthorized Korean immigrants at the construction site in two separate incidents this year.

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