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Rechargers Under Attack

4 May, 2014 By: David Gibbons

Industry analysts all agree on one thing: the litigation against cartridge remanufacturers by the printer OEMs will not only continue, it will increase. But are rechargers prepared? Do they really have the knowledge? After all, ignorance of the law is no excuse, and it is certainly no defense. And their sales channels are also exposed to possible litigation.

In fact, Canon’s recent complaint against 18 companies for infringing their intellectual property is significant for a number of reasons:

  1. Each of the companies involved are respected remanufacturers and sales channels, who pride themselves on quality products, and each say—independently of the other—they “respect the intellectual property of the OEMs”;
  2. This is the second time in 2 years remanufacturers have been hit over allegedly infringing the patents of gears on the OPC drum. First it was the twisted drum gear, then it was the drum gear and dongle—both used separately on popular Canon and HP cartridge models;
  3. The targets of the litigation are the remanufacturers and channels—not the actual manufacturers and distributors of the component parts.

It also appears in this most recent suit by Canon, the offending part may not just be the metal dongle arm, but the female coupling gear that is on the end of the OPC itself. In other words, remanufacturers may be reusing the metal dongle from the empty virgin cartridge, but may still be infringing the patent if they use a replacement OPC drum that has an infringing female coupling attached.

To add to their woes, remanufacturers may not be aware that Canon alone is registering, on average, 100 new printer patents EVERY MONTH, most of which relate to cartridges. And, what of HP, Epson, Brother, Samsung, and all the other OEMs? How on earth can remanufacturers work their way through the minefield of all these patents?  In short, cartridge remanufacturers must do more than say they “respect the intellectual property of the OEMs”. They must be able to prove they are doing due diligence. The ramifications for those in the channels selling the remanufactured, aftermarket cartridges are that they, too, could be liable and could, rightfully, become targets of the OEMs.

New Watch Service

However, it is not all doom and gloom. A new patent watch service could support remanufacturers and those in the sales channels. It is a service that covers the cartridge patents of all the OEMs in Europe, USA and China—and all in plain English.

Remanufacturers cannot afford to ignore this information as it will help protect them by demonstrating they are genuinely respecting the patents of the OEMs. The service, to be launched at the RT Imaging Summit in Las Vegas on May 29/30, will provide remanufacturers and the sales channel with the information they need to interrogate their component suppliers.  Get registered and join us in Vegas. Don’t gamble on becoming an OEM target!

David Gibbons is Director, Publisher & Producer for the Recycling Times Media Corporation, based in China.  Recycling Times magazine is in English, Spanish and Chinese monthly, in addition, their trade show RemaxAsia in China, and the launch of an RT Imaging Summit in the USA in May. Visit: http://www.irecyclingtimes.com and/or follow prompts via Conference tab.

About the Author: David Gibbons

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