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Update: Sany Denies Manitowoc Crane Patent Claims

Posted on July 16, 2013

In its first public comments on the matter, Chinese construction equipment giant Sany has denied charges that it has infringed on crawler crane patents held by Manitowoc Cranes.

Earlier this month, 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 on patents involving Manitowoc's variable position technology. Manitowoc’s complaint calls for a limited import ban of Sany cranes and components, the USITC said in a statement.

“There doesn’t exist a situation of infringement,” Sany Heavy Industry Vice President Zhu Wenkui told a China newspaper.

Later, the company issued a statement in which Sany Heavy Industry President Xiang Wenbo said “We categorically reject the claims made by Manitowoc and stand fully behind our market-leading products. Sany will respond actively to this legal action through appropriate legal measures to protect our own intellectual property.”

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.