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Court rules trade secrets were taken in business litigation case

Misappropriation of trade secrets is a common subject for litigation in Oregon and other states. In one business litigation case in another state, a federal district court judge recently ruled in favor of a trade secrets claim made by The Manitowoc Company, Inc. against Sany Heavy Industries and Sany America. Manitowoc is a major international manufacturer of cranes and lift mechanisms.

The specific details of how Sany misappropriated trade secrets of the crane maker has not been revealed in press reports. However, the federal district court judge ruled favorably on Manitowoc's motion for a summary judgment, finding that Sany was liable for trade secret misappropriation. A trial of the damages aspect of the case is set for 2019.

The claim centers around Manitowoc's SCC8500 crane, and the company's variable position counterweight technology. The judge's decision and order are based on previous commercial litigation in front of the International Trade Commission and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Trade secrets litigation is sometimes based on the taking of inside information from a company by employees who try to pass the information to their new employer.

Word of such misappropriation can spread back to the owner company through a variety of means. If the company believes that the information is important enough, it may consult with in-house or outside litigation counsel to determine its rights. In a commercial law setting, specialized courts and commissions may have initial jurisdiction to hear such disputes. In this case, the federal district court found that Sany was liable for trade secret misappropriation under the law of Wisconsin, where Manitowoc has its main offices.

The right of appeal to a federal district court always exists if a litigant loses before an administrative agency or adjudicatory entity. Business litigation attorneys are an integral participant in these kinds of complex commercial conflicts. Companies in Oregon that may encounter similar problems will be well-served to consult with an attorney who is familiar with this kind of business conflict.   

Source: twst.com, "Manitowoc Company Inc.: U.S. District Court Rules In Manitowoc's Favor In Trade Secret Misappropriation Lawsuit Against Sany", Dec. 20, 2017

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