Appliance major Maytag Corp. is suing rival Electrolux Home Products Inc. for allegedly infringing on Maytag patents for molding washing machine baskets.
The company filed suit July 23 in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa. The two patents in question cover in detail a method for injection molding a plastic washing machine basket.
``Maytag is diligent about enforcing patents,'' spokeswoman Lynne Dragomeier said in a telephone interview from her firm's headquarters in Newton, Iowa. She said the company will not comment further on the case while it is in litigation.
Maytag has requested a jury trial. It claims Electrolux Home Products has made, used and or sold products infringing Maytag's patents. Electrolux spokesman Tony Evans said Electrolux cannot comment on the case while it is in litigation, ``but we're confident it will be shown that there is no merit to the suit.''
Maytag was granted two U.S. patents in 1999 covering the method and tooling to injection mold washing machine baskets with perforations in the base and sides of the basket. In its patents, Maytag said the conventional way of making such baskets is to start with a formed metal basket and then perforate it. That multistep method is time consuming and expensive.
Early attempts to mold a perforated plastic basket resulted in numerous knit lines on the inside of the basket, which reduced the basket's structural integrity. Other attempts to drill holes in a single-piece molded basket left burrs and sharp edges around the perforations.
Maytag claims its patented molding technology makes a perforated plastic basket in one step without interior knit lines. Maytag makes laundry products such as washers and dryers in Newton and in Florence, S.C.
Electrolux Home Products' Frigidaire division, based in Atlanta, makes home appliances. Its Webster City, Iowa, plant makes washers, dryers and other laundry products. Electrolux Home Products is a subsidiary of AB Electrolux of Stockholm, Sweden.