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Manitowoc Wins Ruling Against China's Sany

Posted on July 23, 2014

After nearly a yearlong investigation, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has issued an initial determination in a patent infringement and trade secrets case filed by Manitowoc against China’s Sany Heavy Industries and Sany America.

The investigation was based on a complaint filed in June of 2013 by Manitowoc Cranes, LLC alleging that Sany imported and sold crawler cranes that infringed on patents involving Manitowoc's variable position technology.

According to the notice issued by USITC Administrative Law Judge David P. Shaw, Manitowoc succeeded in demonstrating that “certain accused products infringe claims” were valid and that Sany engaged in the “misappropriation of certain asserted trade secrets” owned by Manitowoc.

Manitowoc said it is pleased by the favorable ruling and looks forward to receiving the commission’s final order later this year. The notice issued by the judge released only limited information. The company will provide additional information once the public version of the Final Initial Determination is issued. The USITC is a frequent venue for patent issues and it can order a sales ban for any device which infringes a patent.

After Manitowoc originally lodged its complaint with the USITC, Sany denied the charges. “There doesn’t exist a situation of infringement,” Sany Heavy Industry Vice President Zhu Wenkui told a Chinese 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.”

Manitowoc’s complaint against Sany was 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.