Whirlpool Wins LG Infringement Suit

By Alan Wolf On Mar 23 2010 - 11:55am




WILMINGTON, DEL. — A federal jury found that LG Electronics infringed a Whirlpool patent for an in-door icemaker and awarded the appliance manufacturer $1.8 million in damages.

The jury also dismissed a counterclaim that Whirlpool infringed an LG patent for water-dispenser technology.

The jury’s findings contradict those of the International Trade Commission (ITC), which last month dismissed the last of Whirlpool’s patent- infringement charges that had been brought before that body.

The jury verdict in the two-year-old Delaware case followed seven days of deliberation in a U.S. district court. The court is expected to issue a final judgment later this year.

Both cases involved the manufacture and sale of side-by-side refrigerators by LG that allegedly infringe Whirlpool’s U.S. Patent 6,082,130 for an in-the-door ice system. Whirlpool said that based on the jury verdict, it will seek a permanent injunction against LG after the final judgment is handed down.

“We are pleased that the Delaware jury has acknowledged our intellectual property rights, and that it has issued this verdict to help protect our company’s investments in technology from those who would unfairly use our innovations for their own benefit,” said Greg Miller, refrigeration general manager, Whirlpool North America Region (NAR).

Whirlpool also said it provided the jury with “compelling evidence” that it invented the water-dispenser technology claimed by LG in a countersuit, and has initiated an interference proceeding that seeks priority over LG’s asserted patent based on Whirlpool’s earlier invention date.

The two majap manufacturers previously came to blows over a longstanding patent suit accusing LG of copying Whirlpool’s design for impeller- type washer drums. Whirlpool lost that case on appeal.

LG was also sued by Fisher & Paykel in 2003 for “directly duplicating” its SmartDrive system for front load washers. LG acknowledged that Fisher & Paykel was first-to-market with the motor, but said its own direct- drive system differed from F&P’s clutch-drive mechanics.

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