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F&P Takes Legal Action Against Korean Competitor

Fisher And Paykel Appliances Takes Legal Action Against Korean Competitor On Patent Issues

Fisher and Paykel Appliances Ltd has announced it has commenced legal action against LG Electronics, Inc. and LG Electronics, U.S.A., Inc., a major Korean manufacturer and exporter of appliances and its United States subsidiary.

The company filed papers in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago yesterday.

Fisher and Paykel Appliances introduced "SmartDrive®" motor technology for washing machines in1991. "SmartDrive®" is a computerised control system enabling the machine to readily adjust its wash actions according to the fabric types and clothes loads in the machine. Fisher and Paykel Appliances obtained a United States patent for this technology the same year.

Mr John Bongard, managing director of Fisher and Paykel Appliances, says other overseas companies had endeavoured to develop their own systems to compete with the popular "SmartDrive®" system with limited success.

However, the company believes LG Electronics had infringed patent rights by directly duplicating Fisher and Paykel's technology.

"The key to Fisher and Paykel Appliances' international success is the superior technology developed in New Zealand, including major break throughs such as "SmartDrive®", the "DishDrawer®" concept for dishwashers, "Active Smart(tm)" refrigerators and the recently announced "SmartLoad(tm)" clothes dryer developed for the United States.

"We hold some 400 international patents on the technology behind various features which motivate customers to choose our brands, and we are resolute about enforcing them.

"The "SmartDrive® technology is protected by patent for a further 10 years. We have no intention of just standing back when we believe that innovations developed at significant cost to us have been flagrantly copied by a competitor, with no respect for their patented status," said Mr Bongard.

Fisher and Paykel Appliances has total revenues of some $800 million, of which about $600 million is achieved through international sales.

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