August 31, 2014

The Battle Continues – LG vs Whirlpool

If you have been following the ongoing series of court debates between LG and Whirlpool, you’ll be aware of the back and forth battles regarding steam dryers and refrigerator patents.

The United States District Court in Chicago this week entered a final judgment in favor of Whirlpool in a case filed by LG Electronics involving Whirlpool’s steam dryer advertising. The court had previously ruled that “Whirlpool has established that its dryers do, in fact, use steam,” and that “LG did not introduce expert testimony or credible evidence of even a single Whirlpool customer, retailer, or trade representative who expressed confusion.”

“We’re very pleased with the Court’s decision,” said Marc Bitzer, president, Whirlpool North America Region. This victory means consumers will continue to have a choice in purchasing their steam laundry appliances.”

While this seems to settle the steam dryer case, the refrigerator patent battles continue. LG originally sued to have Whirlpool fridge patents invalidated; Whirlpool countersued. In March 2010, a jury trial found mostly in favor of Whirlpool and awarded Whirlpool $1,786,925. On July 1, 2011, the court granted a new trial and set a trial date of Sept. 28, 2011.

Whirlpool is seeking a judgment that better validates its patent claims; LG seeks to have the claims of patent violation invalidated and eliminate its liability. Stay tuned…

LG’s Smart Diagnosis

LG has taken the technology they used in the Kenmore Connect system for Sears. and applied the self-diagnosis technology for clothes washers and dryers to their own LG brand.

The SmartDiagnosis system was developed by LG to help customer service representatives quickly and efficiently troubleshoot mechanical issues over the phone, limiting service calls and in-home visits.

Consumers calling the LG customer service center are instructed to press select buttons on the laundry unit, which in turn trigger a series of diagnostic tones. Each tone corresponds with a specific potential maintenance need and can be identified by trained service technicians over the phone, allowing them to evaluate the information and provide feedback based on the data that was received. The system is designed to eliminate a step in the troubleshooting process, because issues may be identifiable without a service technician visit. When service visit is required, the technician can come prepared with the correct parts so that the repair can be resolved in one visit.

Kenmore’s Talking Appliances

Last February, Mel Bonner, 63, of Tinley Park, Ill., noticed water beneath his washing machine. He couldn’t find a leak, so he dialed the manufacturer’s customer service number. Then he held the receiver up and let the machine do the “talking.”

The washer was “beeping, and lights [were] flashing” as it transmitted self-diagnostic data, says Bonner, a retired electrician. When the telephone representative couldn’t figure out the problem, a technician was dispatched to Bonner’s home. The technician “didn’t know what was wrong” when he arrived, says Bonner, “but he knew what wasn’t wrong.” The washing machine was working properly again in less than half an hour. “It was just so simple,” says Bonner. “I don’t know why everybody doesn’t have this.”

Kenmore has unveiled a set of washers and dryers that can speak to technicians, at least over the phone. The appliances, called the Kenmore Elite washer and dryer series, use a technology called Kenmore Connect to speak. Through Kenmore Connect, a machine will send real time diagnostic information to a technician over a phone line.

Once this information is received, the technician can help the consumer fix the problem. The machines don’t speak via a conventional speech synthesizer; the sounds are digitally coded and come out as beeps and something that sounds like noise.

Kenmore said technicians use 100 different data points derived from the Kenmore Connect transmission. This includes air and water temperatures, cycle times and spin speeds. The data points can point to the status of certain electrical and mechanical sub-systems or reveal the mechanical issue with the error code.

The talking appliance is not only convenient for the user, but for Kenmore as well. It allows the company to reduce the amount of time it spends fixing appliances in someone’s house.

“The majority of service calls during the first year of ownership can be rectified by educating new owners over the phone once we have a deep understanding of the question at hand thanks to the information being sent from their Kenmore appliance directly to our experts via the phone.”

Kenmore said it conducted field testing earlier in the year. The initial results from these tests showed the talking significantly reduced the number of customers that needed an in-home repair.

Bonner was one of several thousand customers in a pilot program to test the remote-servicing technology.  LG plans to add the feature to many of its top-of-the-line laundry appliances in the U.S.

Whirlpool Wins $1.78 Million From LG in Patent Case

According to Businessweek.com, Whirlpool Corp., the world’s largest appliance maker, won $1.78 million in patent- infringement damages from Korea’s LG Electronics Inc. in a continuing dispute over refrigerator technology.

After a seven-day trial in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, the jury of five women and three men also decided that Whirlpool didn’t infringe an LG icemaker patent. “We’re gratified that the jury found that our patent is both valid and infringed,” Scott F. Partridge, one of Whirlpool’s lawyers, said in an interview after the verdict.

LG, of Seoul, sued Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool in 2008 alleging infringement of a U.S. patent for an ice dispenser. Whirlpool countersued, claiming LG infringed patents for in-door ice-access and warp-proof refrigerator liners. LG said in a statement it would seek a judicial review of the verdict.

During two days of deliberations, jurors repeatedly examined a row of LG and Whirlpool double-door refrigerators with icemakers lined up in the courtroom, comparing claims of the patents and how the equipment works.

LG had asked the jury to award it more than $1 million in royalties, and Whirlpool originally asked for a minimum of $22.1 million in its suit.

The case was complicated by a U.S. International Trade Commission ruling in Washington last month that LG didn’t violate a Whirlpool patent for ice storage and may still import refrigerators.

In its statement, LG said the jury “was not permitted to hear any evidence concerning the ITC investigation.”

LG is the No. 3 appliance maker behind Whirlpool and Sweden’s Electrolux AB. LG reported more than $7 billion in home appliance sales last year and is aiming to become the world’s largest maker of refrigerators and washing machines by 2012.

LG agreed to modify the design of the ice maker in some of its refrigerators to resolve part of the ITC dispute.

Laundry is Moving Up

The next generation of laundry has arrived and the status quo is getting a much-needed makeover. New washer and dryer technologies and innovations in detergents and clothing care save time and energy, making laundry feel like less of a chore.

Everything in its place

Laundry rooms used to be relegated to the basement, but more people are finding space for washers and dryers in convenient areas of the house like upstairs near bedrooms. Experts say installing a “laundry nook” is not only a good investment and can raise the value of your home, but it can make hauling baskets of clothing up and down flights of stairs a thing of the past.

The closer the washer and dryer are to living spaces the more important it is for them to be quiet. “Look for machines with new technologies that reduce vibration for nearly noiseless laundry sessions,” says home design expert Doug Wilson. “If your washer and dryer are out in the open, look for colorful and sleek models that can stand out stylishly on their own. New models are available in a variety of designer finishes such as wild cherry red, Riviera blue and even colors that give the look of stainless steel without the stainless steel price tag.”

Near the laundry area or on the go, make sure to keep the latest stain removal products handy. Treating a stain as soon as it happens can help to ensure your clothing won’t be ruined and prevent the need for multiple washings to remove the stain. Oxygen-based stain removers are gentle, nontoxic and effective on nearly every stain and most types of fabrics. And portable stain-erasing pens and wipes are handy for treating stains no matter where you are.

Get the most out of your wash and save energy

Until now, washers only used one washing motion — tumbling — to clean clothes. Select washers from LG now feature technology that provides a new way to care for your clothes with four new washing motions — rolling, stepping, swinging and scrubbing.Cold care, heavy duty and enhanced hand-wash cycles use a combination of these motions to gently and effectively clean clothes. For example, the cold care cycle uses cold water in combination with these motions to clean clothes as effectively as the normal cycle that uses hot water, but with an energy savings of more than 60 percent.

Look for the ENERGY STAR label on washing machines, and you can cut your water costs by up to 50 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. There are also machines that automatically adjust the water temperature and the amount of water used for each load to prevent excess and waste. Detergent designed for use in cold water helps to save energy by effectively cleaning clothes without hot water.

Another trend in laundry is the use of steam for greater energy and water efficiency. Steam washers and dryers also offer enhanced clothing care options such as short, steam-only cycles that help to reduce wrinkles and remove odors from clothing with using water and detergent (and can help cut down on trips to the dry cleaner in the process, helping to save money in addition to energy).

Stay healthy

With 70 percent of U.S. households affected by asthma or allergies, LG’s SteamWasher with Allergiene cycle gently and effectively reduces allergens, including common triggers — like dust mites and pet dander — on fabrics by more than 95 percent, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

“Now there’s a washing machine that is so effective at reducing common household allergens, the LG SteamWasher, that we are able to certify it ‘asthma and allergy friendly,’” says Mike Tringale, director of external affairs for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Win an LG HE Washer and Dryer Pair

The LG True Steam washer dryer pair is the prize available to contestants who enter to win through the LG or Benjamin Moore Paints websites.

From what we can find, the washer includes these Key Features:

* TrueSteam™ Technology
* Ultra Capacity (4.5 cu.ft.)
* TrueBalance™ Anti-Vibration System
* Wash/Rinse Optimizer™
* Trilingual LCD Display
* 1300 RPM Spin Speed
* 9 Washing Programs

Hey, it’s a chance for a free washer and dryer – Go ahead, give it a try.

LG Electronics Newest Laundry Collection for 2009

It seems there are always changes to be made to our washers and dryers. Sometimes it’s just the color as with LG’s vibrant Riviera Blue and a Graphite Steel finish that offers the look of stainless steel. Other times it might be shapes – the square-door design across its washer/dryer line.

LG’s 2009 performance enhancements include the LG MotionCare(TM) Technology, which uses new cleansing motions to care for clothes and save time and energy; the unique LG TrueBalance(TM) system, to significantly reduce vibration; and an expansion of the company’s pioneering TrueSteam(TM) technology, which offers advanced functionality including the ability to reduce allergens and wrinkles from fabrics.

PERFORMANCE AND DESIGN INNOVATIONS

MotionCare Technology – LG’s advanced MotionCare technologies offer consumers something better in clothing care in addition to a way to save time, water and energy. Until now, washers only used one cleansing motion – tumbling – to clean clothes. LG developed a method to care for clothes with four new washing motions – rolling, stepping, swinging and scrubbing – using LG’s Direct Drive motor to increase efficiency and reduce noise and vibration.

Using various combinations of these washing motions, three MotionCare wash cycles improve clothing care performance and are gentler on fabrics:

* Cold Care cycle uses cold water to clean clothes as effectively as a normal cycle with hot water. Using a combination of tumbling, rolling, scrubbing and stepping motions, cold water in the laundry equals energy savings, gentler care of fabrics and enhanced washing performance.
* Heavy Duty cycle uses a combination of tumbling and stepping to remove the toughest stains in less time, saving both water and energy.
* Enhanced Hand Wash/Wool cycle uses the swinging motion saving consumers time, water and energy while being gentler on delicates.

MotionCare Technology will be available in two models beginning in the third quarter of 2009. The steam technology version has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,499 for the washer (Model: WM2901HVA), $1,399 for the electric dryer (Model: DLEX2901) and $1,469 for the gas dryer (Model: DLGX2902). The non-steam model has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $1,199 for the washer (Model: WM2701HV), $1,199 for the electric dryer (Model: DLE2701) and $1269 for the gas dryer (Model: DLG2702).

TrueSteam Expansion – As the first company to introduce steam in residential laundry products, LG will extend this popular technology to additional laundry models in 2009, including an all-new washer/dryer pair with an LED display panel. This LED display takes the guesswork out of cycle selection. The laundry pair also incorporates the unique and high-performance features consumers have come to expect from LG’s TrueSteam technology, including the exclusive Allergiene(TM) cycle, designed to reduce common allergens such as dust mites and pet dander on fabrics. With an ultra large 4.5 cubic-foot capacity (IEC), the SteamWasher(TM) saves consumers a significant amount of time and energy. Like all LG laundry systems, the new models are Energy-Star rated.

The models are available at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price ranging from $1,399 to $1,499 for the washer (Model: WM2801) and $1,299 to $1,399 for the dryer (Model: DLEX2801/DLGX2802).

Anti-Vibration Technology – LG extends its TrueBalance Anti-Vibration system to all premium laundry models in 2009. The TrueBalance system helps to offset unbalanced loads in the washer drum, which may produce vibration and noise. The system is designed to minimize overall washer vibration – even in unbalanced loads – allowing for a quieter operation, making LG laundry pairs ideal for placement anywhere in the home, including the second floor.

Netflix and LG get Together

I have to admit that I have a fairly low tech house.  We are unquestionably the last house on the block to have the thinnest HD TV, but yet we still have more clutter around the television than we should.  At last count there were two remotes, the Wii with its remotes and nunchucks, DVD player (and its remote).  Enough!

LG and Netflix are going to eliminate some of the clutter with new high-definition LG televisions that can screen Netflix movies directly from the Web without an external box.

The televisions, which use broadband Internet technology, will be available in four models — LCDs with 42-inch and 47-inch screens, and plasma TVs with 50-inch and 60-inch screens.