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Whirlpool Corp., LG Electronics settle refrigerator patent disputes

BY Brae Canlen

LG Electronics and Whirlpool Corp. have agreed to settle their respective patent infringement disputes related to refrigerators, ending years of litigation between the two companies. Three pending lawsuits will be dismissed in the U.S. District Courts in Delaware and New Jersey, according to the announcement. All other terms of the settlement are confidential.

The patents, which related to bottom-mount refrigerators and ice-making machines, were also the subject of rulings by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. For the most part, the rulings favored LG’s position. 

The two companies are still at odds over another kitchen appliance, however. Earlier this year, Whirlpool accused both LG and Samsung of “dumping” residential washers made in Mexico and South Korea and below fair value. The ITC, after initially siding with Whirlpool, later ruled that LG had not caused material injury to U.S. manufacturers.

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Into the future: HIRI to host research conference

BY Ken Clark

The Home Improvement Research Institute will set up shop in Chicago Oct. 17 for a series of research-related presentations. 

To be held at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, the event will kick off with an effort to read the future by J. Walker Smith, executive chairman of The Futures Company.

His presentation “Home Improvement Future-Forward: Shifts in the HIRI Future Trends and Opportunities for Home Improvement Retail,” will highlight how the critical 
consumer trends shaping the future of home improvement are evolving.

Based on analysis of Futures Company and HIRI research, the refreshed HIRI Future Trends program provides new foresight into how the home improvement industry can create and capitalize on opportunities for future growth

The 2012 HIRI Fall Conference is open to all HIRI members as well as non-members.   

Other speakers on the agenda include Joshua Rosenbaum, managing director Global Industrial Group for UBS; Rbert Tancula, VP market analysis for Stevenson Company; and Winston Ledet, chief operating officer and partner of Premium Retail Solutions. 

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) is a membership-based, independent, not-for-profit organization of manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and allied organizations in the home improvement industry.

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IKEA plans to open in Merriam, Kan.

BY Ken Clark

With an anticipated opening in fall 2014, the 349,000-sq.-ft. proposed IKEA store would be built along the eastern side of Interstate-35 at the Johnson Drive exit on 18 acres to be purchased from DDR Corp.

Merriam, Kan., is about eight miles southwest of Kansas City, Mo.

“We look forward to growing our Midwestern U.S. presence with IKEA Merriam,” said IKEA U.S. president Mike Ward. “This store would bring the already 60,000 Kansas City-area customers a store of their own and would introduce other consumers in Kansas, Missouri and beyond to the unique IKEA product selection and family-friendly shopping experience.” 

There are currently 38 IKEA stores in the United States and more than 330 around the world. 

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