Genie, whose 180-foot SX-180 boom lift was recently eclipsed as the world's tallest by the 185-foot JLG 1850SJ Ultra Boom, has put its competitor on notice regarding possible patent infringement.
"We have some concerns because it appears to be similar in how it is executed." said Brad Allen, vice president of marketing, product management and engineering for Terex Corp.'s aerial work platform unit, which produces the Genie brand. Allen spoke to ENR on March 5 at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG equipment show in Las Vegas.
Genie in February sent a "communication" to JLG Industries Inc. raising these concerns, according to Allen, who declined to go into further details but said the communication was "done out of respect and done respectfully." JLG Industries Inc. officials told ENR they would not confirm whether or not the company received word from Genie about the lift's design.
"We go through processes to ensure that we don't infringe patents, and we don't believe that we infringed any patent," said Alan Loux, vice president of marketing at JLG.
Both the Genie SX-180 and JLG 1850SJ Ultra Boom ride on a special chassis whose axles deploy in an X shape to achieve stability yet retract for ease of transportation. At issue in the dispute is the similarity of the designs.
The idea of an X-chassis for a boom lift is not new. Genie first introduced such a system on its 135-ft-tall ZX-135/70 in 2006, Allen noted. In April 2007, Genie was awarded U.S. patent no. 7,198,278, which broadly describes an adjustable support system that incorporates axles that swing independently of a base to achieve stability. Most aerial work platforms use axles that telescope laterally to make the machines' footprints wider on the ground.
Freeing up the axles enables boom lift makers to achieve the super-tall reach that the Genie SX-180 and JLG 1850SJ Ultra Boom perform.
"They both use an X-style chassis that uses that geometry which is very advantageous to anybody who is trying to transport a machine," Allen explained. "Anybody who has dealt with telescoping axles over the years appreciates the advantages you are going to get out of an X chassis."
JLG is attempting to patent its own X-chassis. In Sept. 2013, it applied for a U.S. patent for a "pivoting axle system," which describes an aerial lift vehicle whose axles swing out and retract in an X shape.
The dispute illustrates the competitive environment for super-high aerial work platforms. Sales of the SX-180, which was first showcased at the Bauma exhibition in Germany last year and is making its U.S. debut here at CONEXPO, have been brisk.
"We've had a very positive response, and currently our order book is full," said Allen.
JLG's 1850SJ Ultra Boom is making its global debut at CONEXPO.