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Epson Takes Action Against Two Off-Brand Ink Cartridge Manufacturers

3 May, 2005

Epson Takes Action Against Two Off-Brand Ink Cartridge Manufacturers

Epson has filed a patent infringement lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., against the Armor Group, manufacturers and distributors of aftermarket ink cartridges, including its French-based head office Armor S.A, German manufacturing subsidiary Artech GmbH, and its U.S. sales subsidiary Armor USA Inc.

The lawsuit by Epson Portland Inc., Epson America Inc. and Seiko Epson Corp. alleges that at least 30 models of replacement ink jet cartridges for Epson Stylus printers manufactured by Artech GmbH infringe Epson's patents. A total of 12 patents are asserted, with each cartridge alleged to infringe several of these patents. The Armor cartridges are widely distributed at retail locations throughout the United States.

In a separate development, Epson filed a second patent infringement lawsuit to add at least 49 more cartridge models to its patent infringement lawsuit brought in April 2001 against Multi-Union Trading Company Ltd., a Hong-Kong-based company that is one of the world's largest suppliers of aftermarket ink cartridges.

The Multi-Union cartridges are often sold in the United States under the PrintRite brand and in generic packaging. In March 2005, a federal judge issued a summary judgment ruling that decisively holds that the defendant's 23 cartridges referenced in the initial lawsuit infringe Epson's patents. The second complaint alleges the same or substantially similar infringements by the additional 49 cartridge models.

Epson has made huge investments in R&D and manufacturing in the United States and elsewhere to produce high quality, innovative cartridges. Both lawsuits are part of Epson's worldwide efforts to protect the company and its customers from unfair competition of all types, including the sale of patent-infringing ink cartridges.

"Epson recognizes and respects competitors' rights to sell aftermarket ink cartridges as long as they compete fairly," said Elizabeth Leung, director, Consumer Supplies and Strategy, Epson. "In these cases, however, we had to take these actions to enforce the company's intellectual property rights and protect our innovative products from unfair competition through the continued sales of cartridges that are infringing copies of Epson's patented ink cartridges."

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