The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled in favor of crane manufacturer Manitowoc Co. in a patent infringement lawsuit against Chinese rival Sany Heavy Industries and its U.S. subsidiary, Sany America.
Earlier this month, the ITC made an initial ruling that Sany violated Section 337 of the Tariff Act by infringing on one of Manitowoc's crawler-crane patents and misappropriating trade secrets.
Though a final determination is not expected until later this year, Manitowoc "is pleased by the judge's favorable ruling," the company said in a statement. The ITC has set a target date of Nov. 19 to rule on the case. Neither Manitowoc nor Sany responded to ENR's requests for comment.
The patent mentioned in the ruling, U.S. Patent No. 7,546,928, describes a crane with a floating counterweight that can automatically change its position relative to the crane's center of rotation to gain more efficient leverage. Earlier this year, Manitowoc rolled out two new crawler cranes of this type at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show, held on March 4-8 in Las Vegas: Its model MLC300 is a 330-ton crane, and its MLC650 is a 716-ton crane. The former crane retails for $2.5 million to $3.5 million, and the larger crane sells for $5.5 million to $8 million.
Sany's model SCC8500 crawler crane, which was imported in 2013 and also shown at CONEXPO, has a lifting capacity of 550 tons and uses a similar movable counterweight. In 2010, Manitowoc engineer John Lanning left the company to work for Sany. Manitowoc claims that Lanning illegally used his insider knowledge of what the company calls its "variable position counterweight" (VPC) technology to help Sany compete.
A federal civil case against Sany also is pending. At issue is whether Sany violated Manitowoc's patents or found a legal way around them. Manitowoc's VPC extends via a rack-and-pinion assembly, while Sany's SCC8500 uses hydraulic rams and rollers to extend the counterweights. Lanning has in the past told ENR that movable counterweights are nothing new, noting that they "have been around." The SCC8500 retails for about $5.5 million.
Manitowoc employs roughly 600 workers at its factory in Manitowoc, Wis. "We will fight this to the end for them and their families," Larry Weyers, global executive vice president of Manitowoc Cranes, told ENR at the CONEXPO show this past March. Sany currently builds the SCC8500 in China.
Manitowoc is asking the ITC to issue a limited exclusion order and cease-and-desist orders to prevent Sany from importing and producing more of the cranes in question.