Collaboration the key to improving UK remanufacturing

October 22, 2014

A number of individuals involved in the government inquiry discussed what steps to take to improve it, including “cross-industry collaboration” over sharing solutions.uk-map

The Guardian reported on the UK remanufacturing industry’s potential to reach a high valuation in the next few years “if [the] business model can be cracked”, stating that it “represents a huge financial opportunity […] and could give British manufacturers a competitive edge”, though “cross-industry collaboration is probably easier to foster than getting direct competitors to share solutions to industry puzzles”.

The All-Party Parliamentary Sustainable Resource Group (APSRG)’s report, launched in March, stated that the industry could be worth £5.6 billion ($9.2 billion/€6.7 billion), and saw the government start an inquiry into the industry’s potential in August, which UKCRA submitted to in September to get across the cartridge remanufacturing industry’s perspectives.

The ASPRG noted that there was “huge potential” for remanufacturing in the UK, but that the government will “need to address barriers”, and the ASPRG’s Manager Laura Owen told The Guardian that “remanufacturing presents a huge financial opportunity for the UK”, but acknowledged that OEMs and third-parties need to work together, which is “something is that is not always done.

“OEMs need to work to ensure the design stage of the manufacturing process is transparent to enable any third party remanufacturer to be able to disassemble and then remanufacture the product. The return of parts and products from consumers back to an OEM or third party remanufacturer at the end of its first life is a barrier identified by almost all of the remanufacturers we spoke to during our latest inquiry, irrelevant of sector. If industr[ies] worked collaboratively in this area and set up incentive schemes in conjunction with each other, this practice would become consumer habit rather than consumer exception”.

Susanne Baker, Senior Climate and Environment Policy Adviser at manufacturing organisation EEF, questioned in turn the ASPRG’s idea of a network for sharing ideas, asking “why would a successful remanufacturer share their competitive business model with potential competitors? I think it would be naïve to think that they would. Remanufacturers would, I suspect, be more willing to collaborate to identify common barriers and issues which are preventing their business from growing”.

Orangebox’s Design Manager Gareth Banks meanwhile added that “business is still business, so cross-industry collaboration is probably a little easier to foster than getting direct competitors pulling together”, with The Guardian noting that OEMs and third-party remanufacturers “of the same product category” would be “unlikely to want to gel […] printer cartridges being a case in point”.

The Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse (CRR), run by Oakdene Hollins, which has been tasked by the EU to lead its own remanufacturing project, saw Manager Ben Walsh state that “there is no body at a national or European level that represents the views of remanufacturers in the policy sphere. We see it as a need […] remanufacturing can be seen as second best [but] that is largely a perception issue rather than a reality”.

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UKCRA announces next meeting

October 21, 2014

ukcraThe meeting in November will see talks about the UK remanufacturing inquiry, WEEE and IP cases.

The next meeting of the United Kingdom Cartridge Remanufacturers’ Association (UKCRA) will take place on 20 November at the Novotel in Coventry, with the programme just being finalised to include a presentation by Dr. Michael Gell on the impact assessment that UKCRA commissioned and submitted to the government recently regarding the UK remanufacturing inquiry.Correspondence Secretary Laura Heywood will also share feedback about the government’s reaction.

Simon Davies from Blue Frog will share some of his experiences as a collector of WEEE and waste toner, whilst Static Control’s Ken Lalley will talk about the latest legal discussions relating to Canon gears, and will also demonstrate Static Control’s new gear crimping tool that is designed to help install OEM drive gears on ungeared OPCs.

Additionally, ETIRA Secretary General Vincent van Dijk will be present to update delegates on the European patent situation, whilst Lightwords’ Peter Mayhew will be on hand to respond to any questions or queries about the markets. If you are planning to attend, you can click here to register your attendance.

Also, if you would like to be kept up-to-date about UKCRA’s news and activities, then sign up for the UKCRA newsletter here, which will be sent out regularly. If you have any news for the next newsletter, please send it to news@therecycler.com, and mark it “UKCRA News”.

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ETIRA files opposition to Canon patent

October 20, 2014

An image from the patent document

An image from the patent document

The trade association has filed an official opposition at the European Patent Office against Canon’s granted patent, EP 1 536 207, which concerns remanufacturing techniques.

The patent, EP 1 536 297 B1, was granted to the OEM on 8 January this year – The Recycler reported on it in March - and refers to a process cartridge as well as the “mounting method” and “replacing method of a photosensitive drum”, with the document giving detail of the process of replacing the drum – an operation that remanufacturers of toner cartridges undertake and which could affect them with this particular cartridge.

The patent document first discusses the “connecting member” and the holes that are provided in the drum shaft for it to sit in, with the document even covering the actual turning of the connecting member as “perpendicular to a longitudinal direction of the drum shaft”, with the openings and “flanges” also documented.

It then discusses the method of “pulling out the drum shaft”, including the openings in the drum frame and the direction in which it can be turned to be removed or installed. The patent even goes on to cover the input of a replacement drum and its mounting on the drum frame, with each step until completion covered in the document.

The Recycler reported in July that ETIRA was going to look into the patent, which it said “seeks to monopolise” remanufacturing techniques, and added of its official opposition that “patents on remanufacturing are a permanent nuisance for our industry. ETIRA does not support them if they render the legitimate activity of remanufacturing cartridges impossible”.

ETIRA noted that “following an in-depth assessment” by its experts and a law firm, the association concluded that “this is a patent which is worth fighting on behalf of the entire industry”, with the official opposition filed earlier this month.

The 180 claims in the patent, ETIRA noted in July, are “yet another example of the ridiculous approach followed by the EPO that we have seen in this industry: after 10 years of deliberations, the patent grants a monopoly on technical effects that were around at the time of application or would have easily been thought of by an expert. But the EPO is often more interested in collecting registration fees than in promoting innovation or connecting to developments in the real world”.

You can view the patent in full here.

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Static Control hosts seminar in Belarus

October 17, 2014

The largest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components hosted a seminar in Minsk, Belarus, where it introduced new products and support for the market there.

Static Control’s Business Development Manager for Eastern Europe Sophie Lillie speaks to remanufacturers in Minsk, Belarus

Static Control’s Business Development Manager for Eastern Europe Sophie Lillie speaks to remanufacturers in Minsk, Belarus

The seminar in Minsk was held with the assistance of Belarussian remanufacturers Arad-M-Import and LLC Lida Computers, with 42 attendees from 27 companies present. The company noted that the seminar “introduced” delegates to the “range of support and services available to them as Static Control customers”, with the event also a “chance to learn about Static Control for the first time” for some, with many expressing an interest in “attending future seminars”.

Static Control also announced that it has “deepened its commitment to the region” by hiring a new Sales Executive for Belarus, Andrei Adamovich. Static Control’s Unit Business Manager for Eastern Europe, Andrzej Jaswin, stated that Adamovich will “be able to provide support and information for our customers in their own language, and will be exclusively dedicated to the remanufacturers of Belarus”.

Jaswin added of the event: “It was a privilege to host an event here in Minsk and make remanufacturers aware of our commitment to this region. Our customers were excited to learn of the array of new products offered by Static Control that have not been available on the Belarus market before now. In particular, remanufacturers are very interested in the ColorControl system and can see the potential it holds for lifting the colour aftermarket in this area.”

The seminar was the latest in the company’s expanded seminar programme, and forms the most recent part of its seminars announced in March. The Recycler recently reported on Static Control’s autumn seminars, which took place in Zagreb, Croatia, Belgrade in Serbia, and Tsaghkadzor in Armenia, and previously reported on events in Italy, Latvia, France, Romania, Poland and Greece.

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Canon’s US IP cases see settlements and oppositions

October 15, 2014

The OEM has agreed a deal with LD Products in the District Court case, whilst a number of defendants are opposing Print-Rite’s settlement in the ITC case.Gavel

Actionable Intelligence (subscription required) reported on the new developments in the two Canon cases in the USA, with remanufacturer and reseller LD Products becoming “the next to agree a deal” with Canon in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The case in New York, which began in February, has seen other companies settle with the OEM in recent months, including Acecom, Do It Wiser and Green Project; ACM Technologies, Grand Image LLC, OnlineTechStores, Nectron, Provantage and Printronic. LD Products’ settlement saw District Court Judge Denise L. Cote sign a “stipulation, consent judgement and permanent injunction” ending the OEM’s case against LD Products.

The settlement concerns a smaller number of patents than at the onset of the case, with the original 12 patents now reduced to eight after Canon filed disclaimers at the USPTO (Patent and Trademark Office) “disclaiming all claims” of the ‘304, ‘744, ‘640 and ‘085 patents. The OEM had previously dropped some of the patents from the USITC case as well.

In agreeing to the injunctions, LD Products faces the usual ban from “making, using, selling, or offering for sale in the United States, or importing into the United States, any of the accused products and any other toner cartridges or photosensitive drums that are not more than colourably different from the accused products, and that fall within the scope of one or more claims of any of the remaining asserted patents”.

In the USITC case meanwhile, begun in May this year, similar actions to a previous joint opposition from a number of respondents came in early October from the Ninestar companies and ILG (International Laser Group), which have filed a partial opposition to Print-Rite’s recent settlement in the case. The companies argue, according to Actionable Intelligence, that “while they do not oppose the termination of the Print-Rite respondents”, they “do oppose […] the request by Canon and Print-Rite to limit access to their settlement agreement”, which had seen much of its information censored.

Ninestar and ILG’s perspective is that the censoring was “far beyond the specific financial terms” of the agreement, and as such have asked Judge Shaw to “deny the request” to censor the agreement. The companies further add that the agreement “contains a provision in which Print-Rite agrees not to contend that the defence of permissible repair allows the use of a non-Canon photosensitive drum in a remanufactured cartridge”, which is said to be information they require as they are “arguing that Canon has misused its patents and has unclean hands”, the news site adds.

In summary, they believe that it is “impossible to determine the full and complete scope of the agreement […] even though the breadth of such agreements is directly relevant to respondents’ patent misuse and unclean hands defences”, calling the redactions “excessive”; Judge Shaw, Actionable Intelligence adds however, didn’t appear to “make any determination about opening up the content of the settlement agreement”, and his order simply notes that the agreement met the requirements of the USITC, with no evidence found that terminating it would be “contrary to the public interest”.

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Static Control reports on autumn seminars

October 13, 2014

The largest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components reported on the “continued success” of its events in Croatia and Serbia.

Eastern European Sales Executive Angela Shekyls speaks to a packed audience at Static Control’s recent seminar in Belgrade, Serbia about Static Control’s COLORCONTROL Replacement Imaging Systems.

Eastern European Sales Executive Angela Shekyls speaks to a packed audience at Static Control’s recent seminar in Belgrade, Serbia about Static Control’s COLORCONTROL Replacement Imaging Systems.

The latest seminars, which form part of the expanded programme that the company revealed last month, and which are part of Static Control’s free programme announced in March, took place in Zagreb, Croatia, Belgrade in Serbia, and Tsaghkadzor in Armenia on 19 and 23 September and 11 October respectively, with attendees coming from neighbouring nations including Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Static Control’s Unit Business Manager for Central Europe, Ludmila Pekarova, spoke in Zagreb and “was pleased with the turnout”, adding: “The Croatian market is still developing and this was a great opportunity to meet not just our customers, but potential new remanufacturers. Since clones are a problem in Central Europe, people were enthusiastic to see the new opportunities that are possible with genuine remanufacturing.”

ETIRA’s Secretary General Vincent van Dijk spoke in Zagreb about the “importance of genuine remanufacturing” in a presentation entitled Fight Against Clones, commenting: “In Croatia, patent-infringing new-builds have become very popular, but ETIRA expects that OEMs will soon take legal action against trades selling these products.”

Additionally, Static Control’s Unit Business Manager for Eastern Europe, Stefan Gavrilov, noted of the Serbian event: “These seminars help educate people about the many aspects of Static Control. We are not like our competitors; we do not just shift boxes! Rather, we are a manufacturer of the components required in a remanufactured cartridge, including our most recent developments in toner formulation and blending.”

Gavrilov also commented on a discussion at the Belgrade seminar about the development of a Serbian remanufacturing association, stating: “An industry association in Serbia would serve as a great tool for lobbying in front of the government, for banning access of clone dealers to public tenders and instead promote locally recycled cartridges. The prospect of an association forming in 2015 looks hopeful.”

The Armenian seminar meanwhile took place at the Hotel Kecharis in Tsaghkadzor, co-hosted by Static Control and its Yeveran-based reseller MV Service LLC, with technical demonstrations, introductions to COLORCONTROL replacement imaging systems and “current issues and trends within the industry” forming the basis of the seminar.

The Recycler has reported on a number of earlier seminars hosted by Static Control this year, including events in Italy, Latvia, France, Romania, Poland and Greece.

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Turbon acquires PBTI’s remanufacturing business

October 10, 2014

PBTI's site in the UK

PBTI’s site in the UK

The European remanufacturer will integrate PBTI’s remanufactured toner cartridge business into its European toner department.

In a press release, the two companies confirmed their agreement, with Turbon Europe GmbH confirming that it had “reached agreement” with PBT International to “integrate the PBTI remanufactured laser cartridge business into Turbon’s European toner business”.

Turbon previously partnered with Embatex earlier this year, and acquired ILG last year, with PBTI’s Xinia and private label customers informed that “this change in ownership will not result in any change in the day-to-day business execution or service levels”.

Additionally, the business will “continue to be executed from PBTI’s site at Haydon Wells” in the UK, including “system stock feeds and stock in channel automated information”. Customers will be assisted by the known sales team, with Turbon’s UK Sales Director Richard Lee and UK Key Account Manager Steve Hole supported by the Xinia customer service team.

The two companies also stated that all PBTI customers “will get access to a significantly extended product range with many new products and services”, including over 600 different SKUs of remanufactured toner cartridges, “including but not limited to a full range of Lexmark, Dell, Brother, Samsung mono and colour as well as Kyocera products”.

The press release noted that “all PBTI customers will be able to participate in Turbon’s UK-wide used cartridge collection programme”, and that inventories at the site in Haydon Wells “will be raised to enhance the already excellent delivery service PBTI is providing”.

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HP sues Ninestar and Apex for patent infringement

October 7, 2014

hpThe OEM has filed an IP suit in California against Apex, Ninestar China and Ninestar USA alleging infringement of three inkjet cartridge-related patents, with Apex responding.

HP filed the patent infringement suit on 6October in the United States District Court of Northern District of California accusing Ninestar Image Tech Ltd., (Ninestar China) Ninestar Technology Co., Ltd. (Ninestar USA) and Apex Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (Apex) of infringing the following HP patents: 6,089,687 (the 687 patent), 6,264,301 (the 301 patent) and 6,454,381 (the 381 patent). All three patents apply to HP’s inkjet printer cartridges.

The 687 patent relates to the method and apparatus for specifying ink volume in an ink container (cartridge), whilst the 301 patent relates to identifying parameters in a replaceable component (cartridge), and the 381 patent relates to providing ink container (cartridge) extraction characteristics to a printing system.

HP alleges that the defendants knowingly directly and through subsidiaries, agents, and or divisions, have made, used, imported and sold electrical storage devices (chips) for HP printers that use the 564, 920, 932/933, 950/951, and 970 cartridges, which infringed at least one claim of the 687, 301 and 381 patents. It further alleges that the defendants Apex, Ninestar China and Ninestar USA had actual knowledge of the 301 patent before filing their action and actual knowledge of its infringement, but acted despite the likelihood that its action would infringe a valid patent, and HP is seeking treble damages on count.

The OEM is seeking judgment that the defendants have also infringed the 687, 301 and 381 patents, and to issue preliminary and permanent injunctions prohibiting the defendants from infringing the 687, 301 and 381 patents. HP is further seeking costs, substantial damages and specifically triple damages for infringing the 301 patent.

Apex Microelectronics responded to The Recycler’s request for comment, stating: “Apex Microelectronics has not received any official document from HP or from the court. Thus we have no comment on the information published by The Recycler.”

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HP confirms company split

October 7, 2014

The OEM has officially reported it will split its PC and printing businesses into HP Inc., whilst its software and services offerings will form Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.hplogonew

HP’s official announcement came after reports over the weekend that the split would occur, and which The Recycler reported on yesterday. The two new companies will be “industry-leading” businesses, says HP, and the decision is a “strategic step” taken to provide both with “the focus, financial resources and flexibility to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics, while generating long-term value for shareholders”.

The PC and printing side, HP Inc., will be run by Dion Weisler as President and CEO, whilst Meg Whitman will be President and CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, the software and services side. HP Inc. will aim to deliver “innovations that will empower people to create, interact and inspire”, whilst Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will “define the next generation of technology infrastructure, software and services for the new style of IT”.

Whitman will also be Chairman of the HP Inc. board, with this company focusing on 3D printing and “new computing experiences” alongside PCs and printers, and retaining the HP logo. HP shareholders will own shares in both companies, with the transaction, “expected to be completed by the end of fiscal 2015 […] intended to be tax-free to HP’s shareholders for federal income tax purposes”. The OEM noted that HP Inc. will be able to take advantage of “strong profitability and free cash flow” in order to invest in new technologies.

Whitman stated: “Our work during the past three years has significantly strengthened our core businesses to the point where we can more aggressively go after the opportunities created by a rapidly changing market. The decision to separate into two market-leading companies underscores our commitment to the turnaround plan.

“It will provide each new company with the independence, focus, financial resources, and flexibility they need to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics, while generating long-term value for shareholders. In short, by transitioning now from one HP to two new companies, created out of our successful turnaround efforts, we will be in an even better position to compete in the market, support our customers and partners, and deliver maximum value to our shareholders.”

Weisler added: “This is a defining moment in our industry as customers are looking for innovation to enable workforces that are more mobile, connected and productive; while at the same time allowing a seamless experience across work and play. As the market leader in printing and personal systems, an independent HP Inc. will be extremely well positioned to deliver that innovation across our traditional markets as well as extend our leadership into new markets like 3D printing and new computing experiences – inventing technology that empowers people to create, interact and inspire like never before.”

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HP reportedly splitting into two companies

October 6, 2014

Reports suggest the OEM will split its PC and printer business from its corporate hardware and services.hp

BBC News reported on the Wall Street Journal’s scoop that HP “plans to split itself into two companies”, with the “better-performing” computer and printer business moving away from the corporate hardware and services business, with the WSJ stating that the move “could be announced as early as Monday”.

The news site noted in turn that HP “had been looking to focus on its faster-growing businesses” in the midst of a “restructuring plan” alongside tens of thousands of job cuts worldwide, and its last quarterly results saw a “sharp fall in profit despite a rise in revenue”. CEO Meg Whitman is set to head the spin-off company, and will reportedly be “chairman of HP’s printing and PC business”.

Whitman had noted in August that demand for PCs was “coming back” but that the sector was a “declining business”, and BBC News noted that Lenovo overtook HP as the world’s largest PC manufacturer in 2012, putting the OEM “under pressure” in a market it used to dominate. The Recycler reported last month on rumours that the OEM was in talks to sell the PC and printing business to technology company EMC, before breaking off discussions over price.

The OEM is still involved in legal battles concerning its acquisition of UK software company Autonomy; with the two year battle beginning after the OEM wrote down its valuation of the company and claimed it had been misled on finances.

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