On June 12, Manitowoc Cranes filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting a Section 337 investigation into cranes produced by Sany Heavy Industry and its subsidiary Sany America.
A Section 337 investigation pertains to intellectual property rights. The complaint alleges that Sany Heavy Industry Co., Ltd. Of China and Sany America, Inc., of Peachtree City, GA “unlawfully import into the U.S., sell for importation, and/or sell within the U.S. after importation certain crawler cranes and components thereof that infringe on one or more claims of U.S. Patents Nos. 7,546,928 (the ‘928 patent) and 7,967,158 (the ‘158 patent) and that were designed and manufactured using Manitowoc Cranes’ misappropriated trade secrets,” according to the ITC 337 Law Blog and the Association of Corporate Council Lexology website.
Essentially Manitowoc is accusing Sany of using its technologies and patents that are trade secrets in the realm of crawler crane technology. The trade secrets at issue cover Manitowoc’s variable position counterweight system used on the Manitowoc Model 31000, and which Manitowoc has plans to introduce on smaller crane models.
Specifically, the complaint refers to the Sany SCC8500 model and components as an infringing product. The use of these patents and trade secrets also refer to John Lanning, a former Manitowoc employee who now designs cranes for Sany. Manitowoc contends that Sany recruited Lanning with the purpose of learning Manitowoc’s trade secrets and that he has illegally shared them with Sany.
Manitowoc requested that the ITC issue permanent exclusion and cease and desist orders on Sany and that the company be required to destroy all crawler cranes and related molds, tooling and other equipment that make use of Manitowoc Cranes’ misappropriated trade secrets. The complaint also requests that Sany release documents and items in its possession relating to the trade secrets, and related information.
Sany issued a statement saying: “Sany is proud of its industry-leading crane designs and the heavy equipment products and solutions we provide for our customers. The Sany SCC8500 crawler crane was developed from start to finish by Sany engineers, using our own ideas and our own technological innovations. 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. We will continue to bring innovations to market, and offer choices for our customers in North America and around the world.”
Manitowoc declined to make a comment to American Cranes & Transport at this time.