Legal Battle Over UK Judgment – JCB and Manitou’s Patent Trial

An ongoing trial between JCB and Manitou over patented control systems may have just reached its climax with the High Court of Justice’s (Patents Court) decision which stated Manitou had infringed JCB’s patent. 

Shortly after the decision had been announced, JCB released the following press release. 

“On 5th July 2022, the High Court of Justice’s (Patents Court) found that Manitou UK Limited and its listed French parent company Manitou BF, infringed JCB’s European Patent EP (GB) 2 616 382 relating to stability control systems on telehandlers.   

This judgment followed a 6-day hearing in the High Court in London in November 2021.  

The case will now be referred to a further hearing where JCB will be asking the High Court to grant an injunction to restrain further infringement. JCB will also be requesting an order for the assessment and payment of damages and costs with interest. 

The subject patent relates to JCB’s long-established safety control system on its telehandler range which allows greater productivity and reaches. The UK ruling found infringement by a significant number of Manitou’s telehandler models depending on their date of release, including machines in its current product offering. Manitou unsuccessfully challenged the validity of the patent, which is due to expire in September 2031.  

Graeme Macdonald, the JCB CEO, 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 BF, in France, for infringement of the same European Patent. Those proceedings are still pending and a formal hearing is expected to take place in Paris sometime in the latter part of 2023.” 

Shortly after JCB published their press release, Manitou quickly followed with their own version, which stated the company wished “to make the following corrections and clarifications.” 

“Firstly, the judge dismissed JCB’s application for interim injunctive relief on the first patent. 

The decision of the court relating to the second patent, to which JCB’s press release refers has no impact on the business of Manitou BF, its dealers or equipment users. 

Indeed, this preliminary decision applies to control systems (LLMC) incorporated in certain models produced and sold before August 2017. These models were discontinued in August 2017 and are no longer produced by Manitou BF, a fact that was acknowledged by the decision, which does not constitute a definitive first instance judgment and is wholly preliminary in nature. It, therefore, does not in any way prejudge the final outcome of the proceedings on the merits. 

Since JCB’s press release risked misleading the public, Manitou BF felt a duty to set the record straight. 

Manitou BF has appealed the preliminary injunction order to which JCB’s press release refers.” 

Stay tuned to TOOLKiT to keep updated on the rest of the legal proceedings as the two brands battle it out in court. 

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