August 27, 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.

Recall: Dehumidifiers by LG Electronics Tianjin Appliance Due to Fire and Burn Hazards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with the firm named below, today announced a voluntary recall of the following products. Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless otherwise instructed.

Name of Product: Portable Dehumidifiers

Units: About 98,000

Manufacturer: LG Electronics Tianjin Appliance Co., of China

Hazard: The power connector for the dehumidifier’s compressor can short circuit, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: LG has received 11 reports of property damage incidents involving arcing, heat, smoke, including four fires that spread to the building structure and involved significant smoke/water damage. No injuries have been reported.

Description: This recall involves 30 pint portable dehumidifiers sold under the brand names in the chart below. The dehumidifiers are white with a red shut-off button, controls for fan speed and humidity control and a front-loading water bucket. “Goldstar” or “Comfort-Aire” is printed on the front. The model and serial numbers are printed on the interior of the dehumidifiers and can be viewed after the water bucket is removed.

Brand Model No. Serial Number Range Sold at
Goldstar GHD30Y7 611TAxx00001~08400
611TAxx08401~40600
612TAxx00001~20400
612TAxx21001~30600 Home Depot
Goldstar DH305Y7 612TAxx00001~00600
701TAxx00001~16800
702TAxx00001~03000 Wal-Mart
Comfort-Aire BHD-301-C 611TAxx00001~01697
612TAxx00001~04200
701TAxx00001~00578
710TAxx00001~00599 Heat Controller Inc.

Sold at: The Home Depot, Walmart and Heat Controller Inc. nationwide from January 2007 through June 2008 for between $140 and $150.

Manufactured in: China

Remedy: Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled dehumidifier, contact LG to determine if it is included in the recall and return it to an authorized LG service center for a free repair.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact LG toll-free at (877) 220-0479 between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Monday through Friday and between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. CT on Saturday for the location of an authorized LG service center for the repair, or visit the firm’s Web site at www.30pintdehumidifierrecall.com

dehumidifier
CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell about it by visiting https://www.cpsc.gov/cgibin/incident.aspx

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.

LG Launches Recycling Program

Once you’ve picked out the perfect new DVD player or television, you need to plan for the disposal of your old ones.  If your outgoing model was made by LG, that task might just have gotten a bit easier. 

 “The LG Electronics Recycling Program provides consumers with a free and convenient way of recycling their used, unwanted, obsolete or damaged LG consumer electronic products by dropping them off at a designated Waste Management eCycling Center. Waste Management currently has 160 designated drop-off sites across the United States and plans to have at least one drop-off site in each State by September 2008; the number of sites will continue to be expanded over time.”

 

 “Products covered by the LG Electronics Recycling Program include LG, Zenith and GoldStar brands of televisions, monitors, audio equipment, video cassette players and recorders, DVD players and recorders, combination TV/VCR and TV/DVD units, set top boxes and accessories associated with those products. Consumers may drop off up to 5 LG-branded items at a time. There is no fee to consumers for the covered LG-brand products; other brands will be accepted, but a fee may be charged by Waste Management for non-LG brands.”

You can find out more here:

 http://www.lgusa.com/green/locationlist.xls or http://www.wm.com/lg

 Waste Management Customer Service: toll free 1-877-439-2795

LG Customer Service: toll free 1-866-372-2928

Whirlpool Drops Part of Patent Suit Against LG

Earlier this year, Whirlpool filed a patent infringement suit against LG Electronics.  Just last week LG announced that Whirlpool has abandoned part of its patent case against LG and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) has issued a ruling to that effect.

However, the company voluntarily withdrew suits over two of the five patents in the case in May, and the ITC’s partial termination decision came in June, LG said. The three other suits are still pending.

“We submitted documents with the ITC which show the five patents do not belong to Whirlpool,” an LG Electronics spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.

In May, Whirlpool also filed a suit against LG with the U.S. District Court of Delaware over the infringement of seven patents. It has now abandoned a suit regarding one of those patents, the LG spokesman said.