U.S. Department of Commerce to investigate mobile crane imports and their impact on IP infringement and national security, following petition by Manitowoc

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The U.S. Department of Commerce will initiate an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 into whether the quantities or circumstances of mobile crane imports into the United States threaten to impair the national security. This decision follows a petition filed by domestic producer, The Manitowoc Company, Inc. (Manitowoc), on December 19, 2019,

Manitowoc alleges that increased imports of low-priced mobile cranes, particularly from Germany, Austria, and Japan, and intellectual property (IP) infringement by foreign competition, have harmed the domestic mobile crane manufacturing industry.

Manitowoc is the largest U.S. mobile crane manufacturer and a critical partner with the U.S. military. The company has been supplying mobile cranes to all branches of the U.S. military since 1961, producing 100 percent of the military’s all-terrain cranes and about two-thirds of its rough terrain cranes. Since 2014, mobile crane imports to the U.S. have jumped by 152% and captured significant U.S. market share. Manitowoc claims the low-priced imports and IP infringement resulted in the closure of one of its two production facilities in the United States and eliminated hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs in Wisconsin. The company cites the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) Dataweb to 2015 finding that a Chinese manufacturer misappropriated six trade secrets and infringed on a patent, resulting in the USITC banning the sale of a Chinese crane in the United States.

The Department of Homeland Security has identified mobile cranes as a critical industry because of their extensive use in national defense applications, as well as in critical infrastructure sectors. Without import relief, the U.S military and military contractors would become largely dependent on foreign producers of mobile cranes. 

Barry L. Pennypacker, president and CEO, Manitowoc, said. “These imports jeopardize the domestic industry’s ability to supply cranes to the U.S. military and support critical infrastructure, thereby undermining the national security of the United States. We are confident this investigation will demonstrate the urgent need for the President to provide immediate and meaningful relief for Manitowoc. This petition is about protecting our American workforce and preserving our longstanding commitments to the U.S. military.”

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