Whirlpool vs. LG: The Verdict Is…
Mar 15, 2010
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Whirlpool Corp. and LG Electronics were both claiming some level of vindication in the results of a federal court jury verdict on March 11.

The jury in the patent infringement lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, DE awarded Whirlpool monetary damages of $1.78 million based on LG's manufacture and sale of side-by-side refrigerators that infringe Whirlpool's patent for a refrigerator in-the-door ice system. Based on this verdict Whirlpool said it will seek a permanent injunction to stop LG's continued infringement of the patent when final judgment is finalized later this year.

But LG said the patent claims cover older side-by-side models that are no longer produced, and said the jury found LG was not “willfully infringing” these claims. More importantly, according to LG, the jury found that French Door refrigerators made by LG do not infringe a Whirlpool patent for an ice storage bin.

Whirlpool said the patent most at issue was Whirlpool's U.S. Patent 6,082,130 for a refrigerator in-the-door ice system. Whirlpool launched the feature in 2000. LG later launched refrigerators with the feature; Whirlpool initiated legal action in 2008.

Whirlpool said the Delaware jury found no violation under secondary patents of LG and Whirlpool that were involved in the case.

The jury found Whirlpool does not infringe a patent that LG asserted related to refrigerator water dispenser technology. Whirlpool said provided the jury with compelling evidence that it invented the technology claimed by LG, and that Whirlpool practiced its invention and not LG's later concept. Whirlpool's patent application on this technology is pending before the U.S. Patent Office and Whirlpool initiated an interference proceeding in which it is seeking priority over LG's asserted patent, based on Whirlpool's earlier invention date.

LG said the Delaware verdict is generally consistent with a final determination made last month by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which found that none of the asserted claims of Whirlpool's 6,082,130 patent covers the accused LG French Door refrigerators.

But LG said the ITC also found that all but one of the asserted claims of the 6,082,130 patent were invalid and that the remaining claim does not cover the accused LG side-by-side refrigerators and thus was not infringed.

LG said it disagreed with the jury verdict and regarding the side-by-side refrigerators and it plans to seek judicial review of this verdict.

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