Jun 5, 2018

Whirlpool in a spin

Whirlpool is suing an alleged counterfeiter over goods that is says infringe one of its patents and are sold under its trademarks. Whirlpool alleges that Pricebreak is using trademarks on "counterfeit refrigerator water filters" in competition with Whirlpool's own products.

The allegation is that Pricebreak is selling filters that infringe on Whirlpool's patent for "Fluidic cartridges and end pieces thereof" under Whirlpool's various trademarks (including 'Maytag', 'Amana', 'Jenn-Air', and 'EveryDrop').

The parties are not new to litigation: Whirlpool sued Pricebreak in 2016 for infringing the same patent. The parties settled that dispute when Pricebreak gave an undertaking not to infringe the patent. Whirlpool has included in its new proceedings a claim for breach of the settlement agreement, and is seeking injunctive relief and 'treble' damages.

The concept of 'Treble damages' is alien outside of the US, but is a means by which (under statutory power) a court may triple the sum it awards. It is used to encourage parties to sue where the outcome is in the public interest. Whirlpool will argue that it is in the public interest to keep counterfeit products off the market, especially those that are to be used in food and drink (like water filtration products for fridges).

Whirlpool are fresh off the back of a big defeat in the US courts, after the Supreme Court declined to hear their appeal against Homeland Housewares, the maker of the famous 'Nutri-bullet' food processing device. That defeat leaves one of Whirlpool's more valuable patents lying invalid, and may open the compact food processor market to copycats.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

in: EU/International, Patents, Trade Marks

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