US-based Terex recently identified eight counterfeit lattice boom crawler cranes in China’s Henan province. The company says it is concerned that the cranes, being sold as used Demag CC2500 models, pose a safety risk. The original 500-ton cranes have been produced by Terex since 2001 and sell for US$3m per unit.
German crane supplier Liebherr identified a fake model LR1280, normally a 300-ton crawler, in India last year. The purchaser believed it was a secondhand crane but realised it was fake after trying to order spare parts based on the serial number, which proved to be a forgery. Earlier this year, fake Tadano cranes were identified near Jebel Ali seaport in the Middle East. Tadano is a Japanese manufacturer of hydraulic and all-terrain cranes, but closer inspection revealed that these cranes had been made in China.
US-based Manitowoc also has concerns about counterfeit parts after it identified Asian companies building unlicensed mast and jib sections for its Potain tower cranes. The fake parts were almost identical to the originals, including designation and identification plates. The company has set up an internal task force to address the issue. â€¨â€¨
Terex says that, although it is worried by the misuse of its brands and potential damage to its corporate image, the primary concern is safety. The counterfeit cranes pose a safety hazard due to their mix of different design features and unmatched components.
According to Bonita Lewis Bell, Terex’s chief IP counsel, the company has been concerned about IP theft for some time. “Most of the counterfeit machines identified are for in-country use, not for export, but a couple we have seen have been exported,” she said.
When a counterfeit is identified, Terex follows a standard process of working with the local authorities and the AIC, the Chinese authority equivalent to the US Trademark and Patent Office. Besides counterfeits, said Bell, Chinese competitors have also copied Terex’s products and branded them as their own.
Terex typically uses the civil approach to deal with breaches of IP. “You can go with administrative proceedings [which results in] fines and confiscation of items,” Bell explained. “Because our product costs US$100,000-plus per unit, I would want to shut a company down, so I take civil action.”â€¨â€¨