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SEOUL, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Whirlpool Corp (WHR.N), the world’s top appliance maker, filed a patent infringement suit against LG Electronics Inc’s (066570.KS) refrigerators sold in the United States as the two battle for the premium U.S. appliance market.
South Korea-based LG denied the charge on Thursday, adding the company would “actively” respond to Whirlpool’s action.
Whirlpool said on Wednesday it filed the patent infringement action with the International Trade Commission (ITC), charging several LG refrigerator models infringe five Whirlpool patents. It asked for an ITC order to stop LG from selling and importing infringing products into the United States.
“We will file a report to refute the charge with the ITC,” said Na Joo-young, an LG spokeswoman. “We will respond actively, but the process will take a long time.”
LG had no plan to file a counter suit over the case, she added.
Whirlpool said the patents were associated with popular refrigerator models such as french door bottom mount and select side-by-side refrigerators.
The two companies have been in intensified competition in North America, Whirlpool’s home market, as LG steps up its push into the premium segment in refrigerators and washing machines.
North America accounted for 60 percent of Whirlpool’s sales in the third quarter of 2007, while LG posted 23 percent of its appliance sales in North America in the same period.
LG Electronics shares were up 1.1 percent at 91,500 won by 0201 GMT, compared with the wider market's .KS11 0.9 percent gain. (Reporting by Rhee So-eui, editing by Keiron Henderson)