* ITC judge rules in favor of LG
* Says LG refrigerators don't infringe Whirlpool patent
(Adds analyst comment)
NEW YORK Oct 12 LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS)
said on Monday a U.S. International Trade Commission judge has
ruled it has not infringed Whirlpool Corp's (WHR.N) patent for
ice storage bins placed in refrigerator doors.
The ruling prevents the ITC from granting any relief to
In a statement, LG said Judge Theodore Essex ruled late
Friday that none of LG's side-by-side or French door
refrigerator models infringed the patent.
Unless modified by the ITC on an appeal, this will become
the final decision of the ITC in about four months, LG said.
Established appliance makers like Whirlpool and Sweden's
Electrolux (ELUXb.ST) are facing new competition as entrants
such as LG and fellow South Korean maker Samsung Electronics
(005930.KS) offer more high-end products.
Cowen & Co analyst Laura Champine said the ruling should
benefit LG's business in the United States, where the company
is focused on making refrigerators with through-the-door ice
and water dispensers.
The ruling came nearly three months after the U.S. ITC
ordered an agency judge to take another look at a patent fight
between Whirlpool and LG over refrigerator components.
Whirlpool last year accused rival LG of infringing on five
Whirlpool patents involving freezer compartment and ice storage
bins. It asked the trade panel to halt imports of refrigerators
with those components for sale in the United States.
During the course of the case, Whirlpool withdrew four of
those patents prior to the trial, LG said.
On Feb. 26, an administrative law judge working for the
commission issued an initial determination in favor of LG. But
the entire commission ordered the case sent back to the same
administrative judge and extended the agency's investigation
until Sept. 7.
Whirlpool does not provide comment on pending litigation,
company spokeswoman Jill Saletta said in an e-mail.
Whirlpool shares were up 1.3 percent to $71.44.
(Reporting by Dhanya Skariachan, editing by Gerald E.
McCormick, Dave Zimmerman)