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Maytag Corp. has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against competitor Electrolux Home Products Inc. over the design of plastic washing machine baskets. The two-count civil lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Sioux City, Iowa, alleges that the Frigidaire division of Electrolux is manufacturing, using and/or selling products which infringe on two patents assigned to Maytag in 1999. A patent issued in March 1999 details the design of the basket and one issued in November 1999 explains a one-step cost-effective method for molding the basket. Patent documents indicate the plastic basket was designed to replace traditional metal baskets which cost more to manufacture. Maytag seeks a permanent injunction to prevent Electrolux from using the designs as well as monetary damages plus interest. Company spokeswoman Lynne Dragomeier said she couldn’t place an amount on the alleged damage. “We would not comment on that because it is an active litigation,” she said. The company seeks a jury trial, according to court documents. “We have not yet reviewed details of the charges and cannot comment on matters in litigation,” said Elextrolux spokesman Tony Evans. “However, we are confident that it will be shown that there is no merit to the charge.” Maytag, based in Newton, Iowa, manufactures and sells laundry equipment under the Maytag and Amana brands. Electrolux Home Products is the North American division of Sweden-based AB Electrolux. It was formed in 1997 when Electrolux combined with American Yard Products, Frigidaire, and Poulan/WeedEater. Frigidaire, based in Atlanta, manufactures and sells washers and dryers in addition to other home appliances. Both Maytag and Frigidaire have laundry machine manufacturing plants in Iowa. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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