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Whirlpool Wins LG Infringement Suit

3/12/2010 04:52:26 PM Eastern

Wilmington, Del.
- A federal jury has found that LG Electronics infringed on a Whirlpool patent for
an in-door ice maker 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 charges of ice-maker patent
infringement 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
it will seek a permanent injunction against LG based on the jury verdict 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, 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 suit accusing LG of
infringing Whirlpool's patent 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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