After opening its investigation of the case more than a year ago, the U.S. International Trade Commission has made an initial ruling in favor of Manitowoc in the crane manufacturer’s patent infringement lawsuit against Sany America.
The ITC ruled earlier this month that Sany’s SCC8500 crawler crane violates section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, saying that Sany misappropriated Manitowoc trade secrets and infringes upon one Manitowoc crawler crane patent.
The commission set a target date of November 19 to make a final ruling on the case. Should the ITC’s final ruling come in Manitowoc’s favor, the company has requested a ban on the import and sale of the Sany SCC8500.
Filed on June 12, 2013 in Wisconsin, Manitowoc accused Sany crane engineer John Lanning of misappropriating the patents which deal with counterweight systems that balance and allow crawler cranes to “be set up in completely different configurations for different purposes.”
Lanning spent 24 years at Manitowoc before accepting a job offer from Sany in 2010.
Manitowoc’s original lawsuit alleged the misappropriation and infringement of two patents: Nos. 7,546,928 (the ‘928 patent) and 7,967,158. The U.S. ITC ruled that Sany violated the ‘928 patent which covers Variable Position Counterweight (VPC) technology.
According to court documents, Manitowoc employs VPC in its Model 31000 and the technology allows the counterweights to move forward and away from the boom of the crane, rather than stationary on the ground.
Manitowoc’s lawsuit alleged, and the ITC ruled, that Sany’s 550-ton SCC8500 crawler employs the same technology— though under the new name of Auto Counterbalance Equalization—thanks to the hire of Lanning.
Manitowoc released the following statement regarding the ITC’s ruling:
“Manitowoc is pleased by the Judge’s 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.”