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Friday, September 24, 2010

Chinese Imports Worrying John Kasich's Invacare: Fighting Shanghai Knockoffs To Save U.S. Jobs In Florida

Invacare complaint to save Florida jobs
  CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Documents filed with the International Trade Commission in DC suggest John Kasich backs the fight to save an Invacare factory in Florida threatened by Chinese knockoffs.  The documents were prepared by Invacare's lawyers last month.  Ohio's  Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland has been hammering GOP challenger Kasich for serving on the board of directors of Invacare, a Cleveland-area company that moved more than 200 Ohio manufacturing jobs to China.  The loss of those jobs -- and Kasich's role in sending them overseas -- has been a hot issue in a state where globalization and imports have hit the factory economy hard.  The Daily Bellwether learned that Invacare is singing the unfair trade blues, claiming it's being victimized by patent-infringing Chinese imports.  Kasich has been a proponent of foreign trade agreements.  But trade deals can haunt U.S. companies, and Invacare is now fighting [see accompanying document] a legal battle to save 240 jobs at its factory in Sanford, Fla.  A Chinese government owned manufacturer is among the foes.  Inquiring minds might wonder:  Has Kasich fought harder to save jobs in Florida than Ohio?

In early August, Invacare filed a formal complaint with the International Trade Commission against Shanghai Shunglong Physical Therapy Equipment Co., Ltd.  Invacare contends the Chinese are making knockoffs of adjustable height beds used for home health care.  It says the beds are being illegally imported and sold in the U.S.   Here is some language from Invacare's complaint against the Chinese:

"Invacare has made significant investment in plant, tools and equipment devoted to developing, manufacturing and testing the Invacare beds.  Invacare manufactures the Invacare beds at a manufacturing plant that it owns in Sanford, Florida ('Florida Plant') and has been doing so ever since the Invacare Beds were first produced in 2003.  Invacare purchased the Florida Plant in 1994, most of which is designated for manufacturing.  The Florida plant is divided into two different spaces, one dedicated to beds, and the other dedicated to respiratory products.  The Invacare Beds make up a large portion of the beds manufactured in the Florida Plant."

The complaint also states:  "Shunglong manufactures abroad and, directly and through authorized agents, sells for importation and/or imports the Accused Products into the United States.  Invacares's employees have purchased the Accused Products in the United States after importation."

Invacare says the Chinese manufacturer sells to a New York based importer, who then offers the products to dealers and medical providers across the nation.  It said a knockoff bed from China was purchased in Cincinnati at the Queen City Medical Mart on Reading Road.

Earlier this month, the ITC voted to investigate Invacare's complaint.  The full text of the 42-page Invacare unfair trade complaint is available here (pdf). An International Trade Commission press release announcing it would investigate the Chinese beds is available here.

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