Jury sides with Whirlpool in patent infringement case

By David Hutton | Mar 27, 2017

MARSHALL – A jury in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas on March 10 awarded Whirlpool Corp. $7.6 million in damages, ruling that TST Water LLC infringed on the company’s patent for refrigerator water filters.

"Whirlpool succeeds by innovating, and we protect our innovations with patents," Brett Dibkey, vice president, Integrated Business Units, Whirlpool Corp., said in a statement. "We are grateful for the jury's assistance in enforcing our patents to ensure that we can continue delivering great products to our consumers."

Whirlpool filed lawsuit against TST Water in September 2015 in the Marshall Division of the Eastern District of Texas alleging that certain water filters manufactured and sold by TST Water infringed Whirlpool Corp.'s U.S. Patent No. 7,000,894, titled Fluidic Cartridges and End Pieces Thereof.

The jury found that Whirlpool’s patent was valid and that TST’s Whirlpool refrigerator-compatible water filters infringed on the patent.

TST Water manufacturers refrigerators that are compatible with Whirlpool’s Filter 3 filters and the products are marked with the ’894 patent.

The appliance maker filed a lawsuit against TST Water, alleging that it infringed on Whirlpool’s filter patent with its replacement water filters.

The Temecula, California-based company distributes its filters throughout the United States through channels that include home improvement stores and online stores.

According to court records, the suit alleged that TST Water committed acts of patent infringement and harmed Whirlpool by offering to sell or selling infringing products.

According to the suit, TST Water made replacement water filters compatible with Whirlpool refrigerators. They were offered under the brand name WaterSentinel and under the label “HDX.”

Moreover, the suit noted that TST Water manufactures replacement filters that it intended to be compatible with Filter 3. Its purported Filter 3 products include, on information and belief, at least the WSW-5 filter and the HDX FMW-5. WaterSentinel’s website states that the WSW-5 will fit in place of Whirlpool “Filter3” filters.

On the company’s WaterSentinel webpage, it noted that WaterSentinel filters are “guaranteed to fit.”

The HDX also was intended to be compatible with Filter 3, according to court records.

The suit noted that TST Water would continue to produce and sell the filters unless enjoined by the court to stop the infringement. Even after receiving a notice of infringement, the company continued to manufacture and sell the filters.

The jury also ruled that TST Water failed to prove any evidence that the Whirlpool’s claims of the ’894 patent were invalid. As a result, the jury found that Whirlpool proved that the patent was willfully infringed by TST Water.

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