April 20, 2014

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.

Whirlpool Corp. Files Patent Infringement Action against LG with International Trade Commission

Whirlpool Corporation announced that it has filed a patent infringement action against LG Electronics, Inc., of South Korea, and its U.S. and Mexican affiliates.The action, filed with the ITC in Washington, DC, states that several LG- manufactured refrigerator products imported into the U.S. infringe on five Whirlpool patents. Whirlpool is asking the ITC to issue an order to stop LG from selling and importing products into the U.S. that infringe on its patents. Whirlpool believes that such an order would affect the majority of the refrigerators sold in the U.S. by LG.

The patents protect proprietary technologies associated with the fastest growing segments in refrigeration — French Door Bottom Mount, Bottom (freezer) Mount, and select Side-by-side refrigerators — Whirlpool products that deliver innovative features consumers want:

  • Reliable external ice and water dispensing through the door
  • Freezer drawer support structure that allows easy organization and compartment access

“Whirlpool invests heavily in developing innovative technologies for all of our businesses — including refrigeration — that help differentiate our products and bring meaningful benefits to consumers,” said Phil Pejovich, vice president, refrigeration, Whirlpool North America Region (NAR). “To protect these investments, we will vigorously defend our valuable assets from competitors who disregard U.S. law.”