중앙데일리

Whirlpool defeated in patent suit with LG

Oct 12,2009
By Cho Jae-eun
LG Electronics, Korea’s No. 2 electronics company, announced yesterday it had won a retrial with Whirlpool, the global leader in appliance products, in the United States concerning patent rights for its refrigerators. The decision frustrates Whirlpool’s bid to block U.S. imports of LG refrigerators.

In January 2008, Whirlpool sued LG Electronics for five patent infringements at the International Trade Commission and called for a ban on the sale of LG’s refrigerators in the U.S. In May last year, Whirlpool voluntarily withdrew two of the five suits, and dropped another two in September.

In the final suit, concerning the ice storage unit in the refrigerators, ITC judge Theodore Essex said this February that the Whirlpool patent had not been infringed by LG and that elements of the patent were invalid.

But in July, the ITC ordered the judge to review the case one more time.

“The commission’s order for another look at this suit was an extremely rare case in the history of ITC judging, and some speculated that it was affected by Whirlpool’s aggressiveness and the spreading of a protectionist stance in the U.S. regarding international trade,” read an official statement from the Korean electronics maker yesterday.

But in its final ruling the international court decided on Friday that LG’s refrigerators did not violate Whirlpool’s patent.

Whirlpool spokesperson Jill Saletta said that the company doesn’t agree with the decision and that Whirlpool will continue to seek full enforcement of its patents and intellectual property.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, LG sued Whirlpool for infringing its patents on three-door refrigerators in a federal court in New Jersey. The next day, Whirlpool sued LG in Delaware, asking a judge to invalidate the U.S. patent for a refrigerator that includes an ice maker in the door.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]



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