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Liebherr Mining settles lawsuit over copycat allegations

Equipment manufacturerLiebherr Miningis putting an end to its copycat lawsuit, reaching an agreement with a Chinese manufacturing group to officially se...

|Aug 10|magazine9 min read

Equipment manufacturer Liebherr Mining is putting an end to its copycat lawsuit, reaching an agreement with a Chinese manufacturing group to officially settle the lawsuit once and for all.

According to the Daily Press, a recent joint motion filed by both sides in the federal case does not say explicitly that the state lawsuit has also been settled, however the broad language in a joint motion filed in the federal case on July 17 indicates that Liebherr and the Chinese firms have come to a mutual agreement.

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"Prior to and during the federal court action, the Parties explored different possibilities for a resolution to their dispute," Liebherr and the Chinese group wrote in a request to delay the federal case. "These efforts included private mediation which resulted in a settlement agreement between the Parties on July 13, 2015."

Although Liebherr originally filed the copycat lawsuit in 2010, the three accused Chinese firms — China Space Sanjiang Group (CSSG), Wuhan Sanjiang Import Export Co., and Aerospace Heavy Industry (AHI) Ltd. — filed their own lawsuit last year, contending that Liebherr's Circuit Court lawsuit unfairly "lumped" them into a "purportedly long-running conspiracy."

In their lawsuit, the Chinese firms declare they knew nothing about the scheme to steal Liebherr mining truck designs and had no connection with the Detroit engineering firm that contacted them in 2011 about manufacturing the mining trucks.

"If such a conspiracy existed, CSSG, Wuhan and AHI were not a part of it," said the Chinese firms' June 15 federal court filing, written by George H. Bowles with the Virginia Beach office of the Williams Mullen law firm.

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Terms of the agreement between Liebherr and the Chinese firms have not been disclosed but both have asked U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. to continue the federal proceedings until September 1 to ensure terms of the settlement agreement are met and neither side backs out.

The 2010 Circuit Court lawsuit involving Liebherr Mining accuses several former employees at its Newport News production plant stole thousands of design documetns and thens old the information to copycat manufacturers in China.

"This case involves industrial espionage of a serious and brazen nature," stated a 2013 complaint by Liebherr. "It involves the wholesale theft of trade secrets from a United States manufacturing facility and the use of these trade secrets to help multiple Chinese competitors design a competing product."

In May, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) became involved in the case when it was reported the organization had requested numerous documents from the lawsuit. The reasoning is still unclear. 

(Source: The Daily Press)

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