05.07.2022

JCB Vs Manitou patent saga continues

The UK Patents Court in London ruled today that Manitou UK and its parent company Manitou BF, infringed certain aspects of JCB’s European Patent EP (GB) 2 616 3824 relating to stability control systems on telehandlers sold in the past.

The court dismissed however JCB's claims that Manitou had infringed three other patents: European Patent EP 1 532 065 B2 (EP 065), its UK equivalent GB 2 390 595B (GB 595) and European Patent EP 2 263 965 B9 (EP 965), finding the claims to be invalid in their entirety.
The judgment followed a six day hearing in November last year.

The case will now be referred to a further hearing where JCB will ask the court to grant an injunction to restrain further infringement and to issue an order for the assessment and payment of damages and costs with interest.

Manitou says that "while reserving the right to appeal this judgment, it does not have a significant impact on its business in the UK, nor on the business of its customers." It also added that it "will seek payment from JCB for all its costs relating to the claims pursued by JCB but rejected by the Court, as well as interest on those sums."

Patent Patent EP (GB) 2 616 3824 relates to JCB’s safety control system. The court - which is made up of 10 High Court judges or suitably qualified deputy judges - found that a number of Manitou's telehandler models infringed the patent, or aspects of it, depending on their release date, including - according to JCB - machines that remain in production.

Manitou had previously challenged the validity of the patent, which is due to expire in 2031. It also claimed to have stopped using aspects of the system that contravened JCB’s patents in 2017, however this latest ruling, released by JCB, seems to indicate that this is not the case, although there seems to be a difference of opinion on this between JCB and Manitou.

JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald said: “As I have said now on several occasions, JCB will not tolerate any infringement of its intellectual property rights in any jurisdiction, particularly when that involves its major competitors. JCB will always challenge any companies that seek to take unfair advantage of the very significant investments JCB undertakes in research and development to ensure it remains the leading manufacturer of telehandlers in the world.”

JCB has also brought infringement proceedings against Manitou in France - see below - and those proceedings are still pending with a formal hearing expected to take place in Paris in the second half of 2023.

This legal process kicked off in 2017 when JCB first sued Manitou in the UK, French and Italian courts. The French case was the first to be heard and seemed to support JCB’s claims. See: JCB wins injunction against Manitou - 2019

Then last year in a further hearing the Paris Court of Justice ‘Tribunal Judiciaire’ struck down much of JCB’s claims See: JCB Vs Manitou ruling and imposed relatively modest fines on Manitou.

But both Manitou and JCB said that they would appeal the ruling See: JCB to appeal patent decision.

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