Whirlpool Corporation wins permanent injunction in patent suit against Chinese water filter manufacturer

By Steve Brachmann
February 28, 2017

Gavel closeupOn February 16th, Judge Rodney Gilstrap of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (E.D. Tex.) entered a consent judgment and a permanent injunction in a patent infringement case targeting replacement water filters marketed in the United States. The order for permanent injunction represents a victory for Benton Harbor, MI-based home appliance developer Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE:WHR) in taking on makers of replacement filter makers in court.

The official complaint in Whirlpool Corporation v. Wei et. al. was filed in March 2016. The defendants in the case manage business operations for Tianjin Jinghai Yunda Industry and Trade Co., a Chinese manufacturer of water purification and treatment systems. In its suit against Yunda, Whirlpool asserted a series of four utility patents and five design patents. Included among the utility patents are:

  • U.S. Patent No. 7000894, titled Fluidic Cartridges and End Pieces Thereof. It claims an end piece for operatively engaging a head assembly which has valves, the end piece further being able to treat and control fluid passing through the head assembly.
  • U.S. Patent No. 8356716, titled Filter Unit. It discloses a filter unit with a substantially cylindrical body and a unique engagement protrusion for interfacing with a complementary head assembly.
  • U.S. Patent No. 8413818, same title as the ‘716 patent. It discloses a similar cylindrical filter with means for secure engagement of the filter media.
  • U.S. Patent No. 8591736, titled Water Filter Unit. It claims a filter unit with keyed features for interfacing with engagement features on a filter head assembly in a way that creates a tight and secure engagement of the filter unit.

Whirlpool’s allegations included the online marketing and sale of replacement water filters through a website operated by Yunda as well as other websites hosted by Alibaba.com. Efforts to market the infringing replacement water filter products include multiple exhibitions at the annual Water Quality Association Convention as well as the distribution of wholesale pricing catalogs to people in the U.S. Screenshots of Yunda’s online marketing show that the replacement filters are marketed as replacements for Whirlpool’s filter products.

In its case, Whirlpool successfully argued that it would be irreparably harmed without the relief of permanent injunction in addition to the settlement agreement, which is executed separately of the court order. The recent court order for permanent injunction also affirmed the validity of all four utility patents asserted in the case along with finding that the defendant’s importation and sale of replacement water filters infringed on claims covered by the patents-in-suit.

The Author

Steve Brachmann

Steve Brachmann is a writer located in Buffalo, New York. He has worked professionally as a freelancer for more than a decade. He has become a regular contributor to IPWatchdog.com, writing about technology, innovation and is the primary author of the Companies We Follow series. His work has been published by The Buffalo News, The Hamburg Sun, USAToday.com, Chron.com, Motley Fool and OpenLettersMonthly.com. Steve also provides website copy and documents for various business clients.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 8 Comments comments.

  1. Paul Morinville February 28, 2017 8:22 am

    This is a big corporation arguing that they will be harmed if not granted an injunction. It is possible to pass the eBay test for this and other big corporations because they have a product on the market and a significant market presence.

    But failure to grant injunctions to any patent holder creates irreparable harm to all other patent holders because it encourages infringement and fundamentally changes how damages are calculated.

  2. Eric Berend March 2, 2017 6:17 pm

    Interesting, the perceptions of so-called “irreperable harm”.

    When it’s a huge multinational $Biliionaire “Big Corp” that will, without a doubt, survive the economic losses in a market for but one of its products, it’s considered “irreperable harm”.

    When it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to break open a new market, create jobs and mint a new fortune in a once-time-honored “American way”; and that one chance is ruined by a pirate known as an “infringer”, the same authorities now claim this harm is NOT “irreparable”.

    This is an enormous hypocrisy not only in the distorted outcomes at contradiction with the very reasoning claimed for these decisions; but also, the very purpose under the United States Constitution for which the patent laws exist in the first place.

    Just a staggering, pernicious failure all around; and, a craven abrogation of their sworn judicial responsibilities.

  3. Eric Berend March 2, 2017 6:19 pm

    ^ ^ ^ Note corrections of “irreparable” for the two “typo” errors of “irreperable”; above.

  4. Paul Morinville March 2, 2017 7:04 pm

    Eric, that is the best articulation I have read describing the damage of eBay. Absolutely agree.

  5. Gene Quinn March 2, 2017 8:09 pm

    Eric-

    Any interest in expanding upon that point in an op-ed I could publish here on IPWatchdog.com? I agree with Paul, that is brilliant and I’d like to see it not buried in a comment section but broadcast as loudly as possible.

    -Gene

  6. Anon March 3, 2017 12:47 pm

    Gene,

    Maybe Caesar, Molly, and Invention Woes can get together and write a column…?

    🙂

  7. Gene Quinn March 3, 2017 3:55 pm

    Anon @6-

    Since you and I called out Caesar for working off a script and I started asking him to identify his personal beliefs and who he was advocating for, he has disappeared.

    Something tells me he won’t be the last to attempt to disrupt things here.

    -Gene

  8. Anon March 3, 2017 8:22 pm

    I am sure that you have noticed the rather quick succession of those who employed distraction attacks, with a fairly orchestrated and coordinated effort.

    You must be doing something right in order to have garnered that type of targeting.

    Keep up the excellent work.