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Subject : LG Electronics wins patent dispute with Whirlpool   
Date 2010-02-26 Visit 4440

Whirlpool Corp., the world's largest appliance maker, lost its bid to try to ban imported refrigerators made by LG Electronics Inc. from the U.S. market.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in Washington on Friday said LG didn't violate a Whirlpool patent related to the storage of ice in appliances. The commission said in a notice on its website that the refrigerators don't infringe the patent and some elements of the patent are invalid. The reasons for the decision weren't explained further in the notice.

"We disagree with the ITC's decision," said Jill Saletta, a spokeswoman for Whirlpool. "We look forward to receiving the details and will be evaluating our options for next steps."

The two companies have been fighting for almost two years over the U.S. market for the appliances. LG, currently the third-biggest appliance maker behind Whirlpool and Electrolux AB, aims to become the world's biggest maker of refrigerators and washing machines by 2012. LG reported 9.5 trillion won ($7.4 billion) in home appliance sales last year.

The ITC judge had twice said LG refrigerators don't violate Whirlpool's patent rights related to an ice-storage system that takes up less space in the freezer. The first time, Judge Theodore Essex was ordered to reconsider his findings and in October he again said there was no violation.

LG, based in Seoul, agreed to modify the design of the ice maker in some of its refrigerators to resolve part of the ITC dispute.

Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool, maker of KitchenAid refrigerators and Maytag washing machines, on Feb. 2 reported $17.1 billion in 2009 sales and said fourth-quarter sales in North American rose 4 percent.

Lawsuits between Whirlpool and LG are pending in New Jersey and Delaware. In October, LG claimed Whirlpool's namesake brand as well as Maytag, Amana, KitchenAid and Jenn-Air refrigerators infringed a patent for a certain type of icemaker.

Whirlpool wants a court ruling to clear its name, saying the patent is either invalid or not infringed.



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