July 30, 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 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.