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Legal Fight Between Manitowoc, Sany Heats Up

Posted on July 12, 2013

The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) announced it will launch a probe into Sany Heavy Industry after Manitowoc Co. accused the Chinese equipment manufacturer of infringing its crawler crane patents. Manitowoc’s complaint calls for a limited import ban of Sany cranes and components, the commission said in a statement. Manitowoc’s accusations primarily involve variable position technology.

The USITC is a frequent venue for patent issues as its docket moves fairly quickly and it can order a sales ban for any device which infringes a patent.

The move is the latest salvo in a series of legal battles between the two global crane giants. In 2011, Manitowoc filed a lawsuit against a former employee now working for Sany, accusing him of breaking a non-compete agreement and patent infringement and alleging he helped Sany recruit former colleagues at Manitowoc.

The USITC's chief administrative law judge will assign the case to one of the USITC's judges, who will schedule and hold an evidentiary hearing. The judge will make an initial determination as to whether there is a violation and that initial determination is subject to review by the commission.

The USITC said it will make a final determination in the investigation “at the earliest practicable time.” Within 45 days after institution of the investigation, the USITC said it will set a target date for completing the investigation.