July 22, 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 Electronics Debuts New Four Door French-Door Refrigerator

LG’s new four-door refrigerator, with an ultra-large capacity of nearly 28 cubic feet, is among the largest in the industry. This LG model offers the most refrigerator shelf space available, even more than refrigerators with a larger claimed capacity. The refrigerator compartment can accommodate up to 47 gallons of milk and provides ample space for the entire family’s favorite foods, as well as keeps them conveniently organized and within reach.

Innovations such as the Slim SpacePlus Ice System allow for more shelf space providing greater organization and access for consumers. This innovation moves the icemaker from the top shelf of the refrigerator to the door, which is compact enough to also include door bin shelves, allowing for maximum refrigerator shelf space.

Additional convenience features of this four-door model include two bottom freezer drawers. With these two separate freezer drawers, consumers have easy, organized access to the things they need often—and an ample lower compartment that is perfect for larger items or longer-term storage.

The refrigerator’s upgraded Four Compartment Crisper System is designed to help keep fresh foods organized and ensure every fruit, vegetable and soda has its place. With three top drawers – two of which are humidity-controlled – and a fourth Glide N’ Serve drawer below, there is greater organization and easier access. The extra tall ice and water dispensing center, measures 12.6 inches, among the tallest in the industry. A slide-out pitcher rest makes filling uniquely shaped and assorted sized pitchers and glasses easy, including coffee pots and sports bottles.

LG’s Four-Door French-Door Refrigerator Evolution…Converta Drawer

With this latest model, LG has transformed the concept of the four-door refrigerator with a unique Converta Freezer Drawer, which allows the top freezer drawer to be used as extra refrigerator space if needed. This delivers new flexibility options previously unavailable to consumers, and is especially helpful for entertaining at home when extra space is often desired. Additionally, this drawer can operate at numerous temperatures, including at a “soft freeze” setting to safely thaw meat and poultry. With the Converta drawer set to refrigerator mode, this model can accommodate up to 53 gallons of milk, nearly 13 percent more than the already-spacious refrigerator section alone. This is more fresh-food storage space than any other freestanding French-door refrigerator on the market.

In addition to the convenience of Converta Drawer, this refrigerator includes an auto open/close freezer drawer option. This enables users to automatically open and close the bottom freezer drawers with the touch of a button, making it easier to access food items or unload groceries. The drawers also have an assisted open/close function; a slight push or pull on the drawer will prompt it to open/close by itself. A Safety Interruption feature stops automatic closing if a child’s hand or any obstacles are in the way.

Stainless Steel Never Looked So Green…Linear Compressor Technology

To achieve maximum efficiency, LG redesigned the refrigerator’s compressor, the element that uses the most energy. Typically, the refrigerator’s compressor is either running at full capacity or off completely; however, LG’s Linear Compressor can vary output depending on need, saving eight to 17 percent in energy usage compared to previous models with conventional compressors. This technology leads to fewer temperature swings, which means consumers use less energy and spend less money. LG’s Energy Star rated refrigerator is 20 percent more efficient than the minimum federal standard. The compressor is backed with a 10-year warranty, so consumers can be confident their home will be environmentally friendly for years to come.

LG’s new French-door refrigerator (Model: LMX28994) is available at a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $3,299.

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.

LG French Door Refrigerator No Longer EnergyStar Rated

From PRNewswire: In coordination with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), LG Electronics USA Inc. has revised the energy ratings on five current refrigerator models.

Refrigerator testing rules used by DOE have been in place since 1979. In light of different applications of these rules in the appliance industry to today’s advanced products, LG has proactively worked with the DOE concerning the test standards.
Based on guidance from the DOE about its interpretation of the testing rules, the energy rating has been changed for five current LG “French Door” models with ice and water dispensers in the door: LFX23961, LFX25971, LFX21971, LMX25981 and LMX21981. For these models, LG is voluntarily suspending its participation in the Energy Star program. Five discontinued LG models also are affected: LFX25950, LFX25960, LFX21960, LFX25980 and LFX21980.
LG Electronics USA’s agreement with the DOE includes a comprehensive program for consumers — an energy-saving modification to previously-purchased refrigerators and cash payments to consumers for incremental energy costs. A similar program will be implemented for comparable Kenmore-brand “TRIO” models designed and manufactured by LG Electronics. This only affects Kenmore French Door models with ice and water dispensing through the door having model numbers starting with 795.
For consumers who have already purchased these models, LG is offering a three-part program:
    1.  LG is offering to modify consumers' refrigerators to make them more
        energy efficient.  LG is making arrangements to visit consumers' homes
        to modify their refrigerator.  This will lower the energy consumption
        over the life of the product and is free of charge.

    2.  Consumers will receive a cash payment for past energy usage.  LG is
        providing a one-time cash payment to cover the difference between the
        new measured energy rating and the amount listed on the original
        EnergyGuide label at the time the product was purchased.

    3.  Consumers will receive cash payments for future energy usage. LG will
        provide a cash payment each year over the expected useful life of the
        product.  These payments will cover the difference between the new
        measured energy rating of the refrigerator with the energy-saving
        modification and the energy usage listed on the EnergyGuide label.
In cooperation with its retailers, LG will attempt to contact all previous purchasers of the affected units to arrange the in-home modification and the payments. Consumers who purchased the affected models can also register to participate in the program and get more information by mail or by calling a special hotline (1-888-848-1266) or online at http://www.LGrefrigeratoroffer.com.
LG Electronics is a long-time partner in the voluntary Energy Star program, and the vast majority of LG appliance products continue with their Energy Star ratings. The company plans to introduce redesigned, Energy Star-rated ice-and-water-dispensing French Door refrigerators in early 2009. In the meantime, steps have been taken to ensure that labeling and marketing materials will reflect the new energy consumption information for the affected models.

LG and GE to Share Patents

News from appliancemagazine.com a trade magazine, reports:

LG Electronics has entered into a cross licensing agreement with GE Consumer & Industrial that will allow LG and GE to use one another’s patents for refrigerators and cooking appliances without paying licensing fees.

“We believe that this licensing arrangement with GE will enhance our ability to deliver winning products and move us further toward our goal of becoming one of the top global brands in consumer electronics and home appliances,” said Young Ha Lee, president and CEO of LG Electronics Digital Appliance Company. “Our long history of working together with GE will help us take advantage of this agreement even more quickly.

“This agreement is part of a win-win strategy for both GE and LG,” said Lynn S. Pendergrass, president and CEO, GE Consumer and Industrial—Americas. “We expect the synergies resulting from the strong relationship between our two companies will contribute substantially to the success of both GE and LG.”

LG and GE have collaborated on cooking appliances since 1999, both in technologies and product development. The companies say the new agreement will help the companies strengthen their competitiveness worldwide. It will be especially helpful to LG, it said, in its push to expand its presence in digital appliances globally. The company currently sells its products through all three of the top retailers in North America: The Home Depot, Sears and Best Buy.

LG has previously entered into key partnerships with other top companies to build its technology and customer base. In 2000 the company partnered with Matsushita’s air-conditioning division and in 2001 LG allied itself with both Microsoft and Intel in the home networking sector.