Snap-on, Harbor Freight settle floor jack case

Terms not immediately disclosed

Snap-on Inc. and Harbor Freight Tools USA Inc. have agreed to dismiss a lawsuit over the floor jacks sold by Harbor Freight. The terms of the settlement were not immediately disclosed publicly.

Kenosha-based Snap-on sued Harbor Freight last year, accusing the California-based company of selling floor jacks that “are substantially identical in shape and appearance” to ones sold by Snap-on. The lawsuit alleged the sale of the jacks amounted to patent and trade dress infringement and unfair competition.

Snap-on sells its 2-ton and 3-ton floor jacks for $550 to $650 while Harbor Freight offers its similar models for $199 or less.

U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman ruled in January that there were similarities between the designs “the overall effect of each design on the eye of the ordinary observe is different.” Adelman at that point denied a Snap-on motion seeking a preliminary injunction against Harbor Freight.

In answering Snap-on’s complaint, Harbor Freight made a counterclaim of its own, accusing Snap-on of false and misleading advertising and seeking to stifle competition.

Harbor Freight argued Snap-on “tried to exploit patriotic leanings of some customers.”

“Believing that many consumers prefer jacks made in the United States—and will not pay $550 to $650-plus for jacks made in China—Snap-on has deceptively and repeatedly told consumers that the FJ200 and FJ300 are ‘assembled in the USA,’” the Harbor Freight counter claim says.

Snap-on denied the Harbor Freight allegations, but did acknowledge some parts for the jacks are made in China.

Harbor Freight also alleged Snap-on’s jacks were made in the same factory as the Harbor Freight ones and the company’s business model is what caused a higher price. Snap-on denied those allegations in its response.

The two companies were scheduled to complete discovery in the case by mid-October.

There had been no new filings made since March, but attorneys for the two sides stipulated to the dismissal with prejudice of all claims and counterclaims in a filing made last week.

While the settlement “is confidential, what we can say is that we’re pleased with the outcome. We’re continuing to sell the Daytona jack and did not have to make any payment to Snap-On,” said Karen Denne, a Harbor Freight spokesman.

A Snap-on spokesman said the company had no comment on the settlement.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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