By Memorandum Opinion entered by The Honorable Gregory M. Sleet in LG Electronics U.S.A., et al. v. Whirlpool Corp., et al., Civil Action No. 10-311-GMS (D.Del., September 12, 2011)), the Court granted the motion of plaintiffs, LG Electronics U.S.A., Inc. and LG Electronics, Inc. (collectively “LG”), for leave of court to file a first amended complaint.
A complete copy of the Memorandum Opinion is attached.
By way of background, LG initiated the action against Whirlpool seeking declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity of Whirlpool’s U.S. Patent No. 6,082,130 (“the ‘130 patent”). Whirlpool answered the complaint and asserted counterclaims against LG for infringement of U.S. Patent Nos. 7,386,992 (“the ‘992”) and 7,793,388 (“the ‘388 patent”). Thereafter, LG sought leave to amend its complaint to assert additional causes of action against defendant Whirlpool for infringement of four LG patents and for declaratory judgment of non-infringement and invalidity with respect to the ‘992 and ‘388 patents. Id. at 3. In opposition to LG’s motion, Whirlpool contended that the addition of LG’s new patent infringement claims would unnecessarily complicate the litigation, thereby prejudicing Whirlpool. Id.
In evaluating LG’s motion to amend the complaint, the Court recognized that the parties did not dispute the timeliness of LG’s motion, discovery had not yet commenced, and no trial date had been set. As a result, the Court concluded that allowing LG to amend its complaint would not be untimely or result in prejudice to Whirlpool. Id. In addition, the Court concluded that Whirlpool would not suffer undue prejudice as a result of differences between the technology at issue because LG’s four allegedly infringed patents at issue also are related to refrigerator technology and any complexity added to the case resulting from the additional claims was not sufficient to warrant denial given the Third Circuit’s liberal approach to the amendment of pleadings. Id. at 3-4.