LG Chem which once sued SK Innovation in an international patent lawsuit, has filed a lawsuit against a much smaller company in March this year, according to industry sources on June 5.
The LG affiliate sued Innox Advanced Materials for infringing on patents involving encapsulation film technology for large-sized OLED panels. LG’s legal representative is Bae, Kim and Lee, while Innox is being represented by Yulchon.
Market watchers believe the mastermind is LG Chem Vice Chairman and CEO Shin Hak-cheol, who champions a patent-centric business strategy for trumping rivals. Prior to LG, Shin was a top executive at 3M, a company built on patents. He is known for working his way up from entry level.
LG Chem employees confirmed the reports, but denied that the firm was making a habit out of lawsuits. “We plan to take strong legal action against irregularities, but only when absolutely necessary,” an official told The Elec.
Innox executives say the patents LG Chem has taken issue with are not “critical” to panel production.
LG Chem and Innox are competitors for encapsulation film, an advanced OLED panel technology that protects panels from external elements such as air or moisture that can degrade organic materials.
Previously, LG Chem had been the sole supplier, reaping annual revenues of up to 60 billion won. Then, Innox began developing the film in 2016 to eventually supply a cheaper, upgraded version for OLED TV panels by the middle of last year.
Industry sources predict that LG Display – one of the world’s leading OLED panel makers – most likely demanded price cuts from LG Chem once another supplier became available. It was against such a background that LG Chem decided to sue Innox.
In terms of revenues, Innox Advanced Materials is only about one hundredth of LG Chem. Last year, its sales stood at 290 billion won ($245.72 million) while LG Chem posted 28.8 trillion won.