Oshkosh Corporation, the parent company of aerial lift manufacturer JLG Industries, has filed a lawsuit against McKenzie Ditty and Sany America, alleging the former JLG mechanical engineer provided the Chinese equipment manufacturer with confidential information on recently-patented boom lift technology.
A patent for an internally supported power track for boom lifts was granted in April 2021, and according to a report by the Oshkosh Examiner, Ditty was persuaded to move from JLG to Sany with a “50% pay increase” in September.
The suit was filed with the Winnebago County Circuit Court on October 21, 2021.
“Ditty may have taken or retained JLG confidential information and trade secrets after his departure from the company, failing to immediately surrender or return it to the company,” Oshkosh said. “Furthermore, prior to departing from JLG, Ditty wiped his company-issued cell phone before returning it.”
“Ditty was intimately involved with and helped to design and develop the new generation of JLG’s boom lift product line and has substantial knowledge of the new products, new technology and other confidential information and trade secrets relating to same,” Oshkosh said.
The Oshkosh Examiner reported that Oshkosh Corporation is requesting a court order that would block Sany from “misappropriating or threatening to misappropriate JLG’s trade secrets,” as well as monetary damages.
Access equipment is the largest segment of Oshkosh’s business, with revenues increasing by 22% for the 2021 fiscal year. China is an important market for that equipment.
In its October 28 earnings report, John C. Pfeifer, president and CEO of Oshkosh said, “Access equipment, which faced an extreme decline in demand in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, has since experienced the most rapid rebound of any of our businesses. The access leadership team has taken measured steps to preserve the health of the industry by addressing unfair competition through our trade case. We believe that we are in the early stages of a multiyear growth cycle for access equipment as the rental companies work to lower the overall age of their fleets, which were at historically high levels entering 2021.”
Pfeifer added: “The access equipment segment in China has slowed a bit as China’s economy has slowed a little bit, but it’s still a very robust market and it will be one of the biggest markets in the world. It’s already the biggest construction market in the world. So, while it slowed a little bit, we’re still very bullish on China. We’ve got great operations there, incredible people there who do a great job addressing the marketplace.”