Samsung warns Uprint resellers of patent infringement

April 15, 2014

SamsungLogo_AP_23April1OEM sends letter to resellers of Uprint-branded cartridges, which allegedly infringe several of its patents.

The letter, written on behalf of Samsung by law firm AKD on 4 April 2014, has been circulated to resellers of Uprint cartridges warning them that they are “making unauthorised use of Samsung’s intellectual property rights […] by selling cartridges that are compatible with Samsung’s printers in which the patented technology is applied”, with the patents – numbers EP2325701 B1 and EP2037327 B1 – relating to “state of the art technique alia relating to ink and/or toner supplying apparatus and methods for the ink and/or toner supply”.

The Uprint toner cartridges in question include CLT-K4072, CLT-Y4072, CLT-M4072, CLT-C4072, CLT-K4092, CLT-Y4092, CLT-M4092, CLT-C4092, CLT-K406, CLT-Y406, CLT-M406 and CLT-C406; with the letter stating that as a result of the sale of these cartridges Samsung “suffers and will continue to suffer serious damages to its printer business and its reputation” and so it holds the reseller “liable for all damages it suffers as a result of the infringement”.

The letter adds that Samsung “has used its best endeavours to discover the identity of the supplier of the products” but has been “unable to trace the manufacturer or supplier” and so it “has no other option than to address the issue with your company as being a reseller” of the infringing products.

To resolve the matter, the letter concludes that unless the reseller is able to justify why it would be “allowed to commercialise the relevant products”, Samsung now seeks “written acknowledgement that you will stop selling products infringing the above mentioned patents and release and transfer these goods to Samsung for the purpose of destruction, at your expense, by or under the supervision of a party to be appointed by Samsung”.

The OEM also asks for details of the reseller’s supplier, of the amount of goods supplied and sold and of the “corresponding pricing details”; with an “adequate reply” needed before 14 April 2014 as “Samsung reserves its right to make further and additional claims and take legal action without prior notice” should a response not be received.

Also within the letter it is stated that Samsung “has started main proceedings in the Netherlands and Germany against certain companies” based on the alleged infringement of the same patents, with The Recycler reporting in December and January that the OEM was taking action against seven resellers in Germany and four in the Netherlands respectively.

It was later reported that a sales ban was imposed by the Court of The Hague on three of the dealers in The Netherlands; while PrintAbout saw all but one of Samsung’s claims against it rejected by the same court.

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Clones having “profound impact” on CEE consumables market

April 14, 2014

clonesichartidcIDC reports that Central and Eastern European (CEE) consumables are seeing a “notable shift” towards clones, which is “proving troublesome” for remanufacturers and OEMs. 

The analyst’s report on the region states that sales of new-build compatible clones are “having a profound impact” and are “thriving” in the CEE region. Despite shipments of consumables only falling by 1.5 percent last year, IDC notes that it is “seeing a notable shift” in the composition of the consumables market, specifically in compatibles, due to the “increasing popularity” of clones.

IDC states that this is “proving troublesome” for OEMs and remanufacturers in the CEE region, adding that this is “the latest in a long line of challenges to the established order”, and specifically reflected on clones being “difficult to distinguish from original OEM products […] typically not [being] recycled [and] creating additional waste”.

The overall inkjet consumables market contracted by 5.1 percent year-on-year in the second half of 2013, with its value declining by 16.1 percent, with the declines “across all CEE countries in both units and revenue”, and IDC commenting that this is “primarily due to a declining installed base and the increasing prevalence of cheap compatible consumables”.

Laser markets performed better, with toner consumable shipments up by 4.6 percent in volume and 7.3 percent in value, whilst toner sales recorded growth across most of the region. The market saw a value boost primarily from “increased demand for colour toners in the business sector”, though IDC warned that the growth “does little to mask the increasing influence that cloned consumables are having on the overall market”.

Tomas Hoda, Research Manager at IDC CEMA, commented: “Clone penetration differs widely across the CEE countries. While penetration in countries like Ukraine or Romania is still relatively small, IDC estimates that in Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary clones could represent nearly one third of compatibles shipments, and this has obvious implications for the manufacturers of original consumables operating in these markets.

“Both the inkjet and toner markets were strongly impacted in H2 2013 by cheap compatible vendors and the arrival of clones from Asia. The target of these products is primarily entry-level hardcopy devices with a large installed base. These cheap compatibles and clones damage not only original vendors, but also traditional local manufacturers, and are considered a serious threat for the traditional consumables industry in the coming years.”

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Armor taken over by senior management

April 10, 2014

The French aftermarket manufacturer’s senior management acquired the company from an investment fund. 

Hubert de Boisredon

Hubert de Boisredon

OPI (subscription required) reported on the buyout by Armor’s senior management team, which has led to the team taking over the company. Armor’s CEO Hubert de Boisredon led the acquisition alongside six other senior management members, and has become the main shareholder in the company with 36 percent of the shares.

In turn, the other six company executives hold 20 percent of the company between them, with 71 percent of voting rights now controlled by the seven individuals. The buyout of Armor’s shares was backed by four French investment companies, Arkéa Capital Partenaire, Ouest Croissance, Siparex and LCL Partenaire, who cumulatively invested €45 million ($62 million) in Armor.

Armor noted that the acquisition took the form of an Industrial and Innovation Capital Management (CMII), which “combines shareholding and social capitalism, in the spirit of a family business”. This model relies on “significant personal financial commitment” from the management team, with the backing of investment funding which “shares a belief in the industrial project over the long term”.

The company added: “Armor’s industrial project will take on a new dimension through involvement in the circular economy and by contributing solutions to the problems of energy transfer thanks to organic photovoltaic film. The project also relies on a strategy of co-industrialisation: developing economic activity in France, by investing in growth throughout the world.

“Research and innovation will continue to drive development that is both ambitious and aims for the long term. This buyout represents an opportunity for every part of the business including Armor Office Printing (AOP), which will maintain and develop its business whilst simultaneously leading a major innovation effort that should lead to the announcement of new products and services as early as this year.”

Orfite, another French investment firm, had acquired 90 percent of Armor’s shares in 2008, and OPI notes that the buyout “sees the exit” of the company. Armor added that staff can “participate in the buyout” of shares through a “special employee fund”.

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Samsung’s case against German new-build resellers begins

April 4, 2014

The OEM’s case has begun after injunctions were issued in November last year, with a ruling against four resellers set to be handed down on 24 April in Munich.

Munich's Court of Justice

Munich’s Court of Justice

Digital Imaging reported on the start of court proceedings against four of seven accused resellers in Munich, Germany taken up by Samsung, after the OEM investigated the companies over patent-infringing new-builds late last year and obtained injunctions against them.

The site names the four resellers in court as HQ Cartridges, based in Seevetal; CMN PrintPool, based in Hamburg; Kolor Office Supplies, based in the Grossneuhausen region; and North-Toner, based in Oststeinbek. The trial, taking place at Munich’s District Court, is said by the site to have seen these four companies file an objection to the charges.

The other three defendants, which are not in this stage of the trial and remain unnamed, do not have a date set, and it is “likely that they have accepted the injunction”. Digital Imaging notes that HQ Cartridges is “one of the largest online suppliers of toners” in Germany, and as such “was affected” by the lawsuit, though there had thus far been “no official confirmation of this. In turn, the site stated that it had attempted to contact directors at the company but received no response, whilst retail stores have seen “unrest” as a consequence of the case.

Elaborating on this, Digital Imaging comments that “many a merchant had his strategy to buy toner [on] price”, and that the case has caused them to have a “thorough rethink and look for a new supplier”.

A similar case took place in The Netherlands in January, with one of the defendants, PrintAbout, claiming victory over the OEM on a number of points in the trial.

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IR Italiana Riprografia joins ETIRA

April 3, 2014

ETIRARlogosmallThe Italian manufacturer and distributor joined the association in February earlier this year. 

IR Italiana Riprografia stated that it joined ETIRA in February 2014, noting that it is “pleased to announce” its membership of the association, which it adds “gathers some of the most important” companies from across the European industry and “represent[s] the interests of the remanufacturing companies and of the end-users”, particularly in terms of “respecting the intellectual properties of products and their eco-sustainability”.

Referencing ETIRA’s Guide to Clones, which is available for download at IR’s website, the company believes that “it is essential to support all the initiatives that have the dual purpose of prompting the remanufactured product and differentiate it from the “clone product”, and that it is important that the “difference between clones and fair products is well perceived both by the resellers and the end users”.

With clones hiding “behind the low prices”, and creating risks such as “poor quality [and a] lack of respect for intellectual property” as well as health risks, IR Italiana Riprografia added that “encouraging communication about what is ecologically advantageous and legally correct is the choice that IR made together with other companies, a choice that IR considers advantageous and in line with its way of being a market leader”.

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Static Control to sponsor Focus on Europe 2014

April 1, 2014

Static controlLargest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components announces sponsorship of annual conference, to be held on 5 and 6 June at Hotel Salles Pere IV, Barcelona.

Static Control will sponsor the Focus on Europe conference for the fourth year, with the company’s Sales Director, Ken Lalley, set to speak at the event. Lalley commented: “Focus on Europe is a prime opportunity to discuss the latest industry developments, and get to grips with the issues that European remanufacturers are facing.”

Among the topics to be discussed at the conference will be intellectual property as more OEMs seek legal action in Europe, with Lalley stating: “Static Control’s stance is ‘do not infringe’, and that has been echoed throughout our company history. The key is to communicate the importance of that to our customers, and remind them that to be mindful of IP is to help protect their business from legal vulnerability.”

Lalley also commented on the topic of colour remanufacturing and the need for an “integrated system approach” to be successful: “We know that developing and manufacturing a complete system of components is the only way to achieve OEM-like quality. Our COLORCONTROL replacement imaging systems allow remanufacturers to pursue new business avenues and compete with the OEM – because each component is part of an integrated system designed to work together.

“Focus on Europe will give us the chance to stress the importance of the systems approach, and remanufacturers the chance to see the results for themselves.”

The Focus on Europe conference is dedicated to the European remanufacturing industry, with companies and experts from across the continent attending to network, discuss industry trends and talk about the major issues facing remanufacturers in Europe at this time. Other sponsors of the event include CBC and Triton.

The call for papers for Focus on Europe is also now open. For a detailed list of topics, please visit www.therecycler.com/events/foe/. Please submit your proposals for keynote speeches, presentations and special sessions at events@therecycler.com.

IMPORTANT DATES

Hotel room block deadline – 21 April 2014

Paper submission deadline – 30 April 2014

Acceptance notification – 10 May 2014

Final paper deadline – 24 May 2014

For additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us via email at events@therecycler.com. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for important updates.

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Tonerman suffers major fire

March 31, 2014

The company’s site in Northwich was ablaze over the weekend, though the company’s disaster recovery planning has ensured that business will continue as usual this week. 

An image from the scene on Saturday (Credit: Northwich Guardian)

An image from the scene on Saturday (Credit: Northwich Guardian)

Northwich Guardian reported here and here on the blaze at Tonerman’s base on Queen Street, Northwich on Friday, with firefighters called to the building at about 11.15pm spending around two hours “fighting to get the flames under control”, and destroying the roof in one section of the building

Temperatures were said to be so high at one point that firefighters warned on Saturday that “it will take a further two days before any risk of fire is extinguished”, though fire crews had begun “damping down” and scaling back their operations on Saturday. Eyewitnesses had reported noises “like popping fireworks” when reporting the fire, and residents were warned to shut windows because of a “risk of asbestos in the burning roof”.

Mike Goodman, Managing Director at Tonerman, spoke to The Recycler about the fire, noting that the company’s disaster recovery plan has ensured that despite the damage, the company is operating as usual this week.

Goodman stated: “I got a call from the fire brigade at around 11.30 on Friday evening, and thankfully nobody was injured. First thing on Saturday morning our disaster recovery plan kicked in, and over the weekend we set up temporary offices in our other warehouse, and phones and IT services were all established over the weekend so that it is business as usual this morning.”

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ETIRA meets German regulator to discuss empties under WEEE directive

March 28, 2014

ETIRA representatives l. to r.: Andreas Schelle  (Interseroh),  Hans- Gerhard Hermans (Return Recycling), Florian Werthmann  (CR-Solutions), Marc  Berger ( Pelican Hardcopy), Vincent van Dijk (ETIRA)

ETIRA representatives l. to r.: Andreas Schelle (Interseroh), Hans-Gerhard Hermans (Return Recycling), Florian Werthmann (CR-Solutions), Marc Berger(Pelikan Hardcopy), Vincent van Dijk(ETIRA)

The association met with UBA to insist that empties should not be included as WEEE under the new WEEE directive.

The meeting between ETIRA representatives and German regulator UBA, which is responsible for the WEEE directive, took place in Dessau on 26 March as a follow-up to a letter sent to UBA by ETIRA in October 2013. In the letter, ETIRA protested UBA’s decision to include almost all empty cartridges under the new WEEE directive (WEEE-2), which will be implemented in Germany for a five-year review period.

ETIRA used the meeting in Dessau as an opportunity to argue that including cartridges in the scope of this law is a violation of EU law, as well as being bad for the environment; and that if all printer cartridges are classified as WEEE, current availability of empty cartridges on the open market could diminish. ETIRA noted that many local authorities across Germany have no capacity to collect all empty cartridges separately during the printer’s life cycle, and so many more empty cartridges would be sent directly to landfill and/or incineration after their first use rather than being reused.

As a result, ETIRA insisted that the status quo should be maintained for printer cartridges throughout the upcoming five-year WEEE review period until 2018 at least.

In response, while UBA made it clear that they think cartridges should be in scope of the WEEE directive, they also agreed that they support the remanufacturing of cartridges; and so both organisations jointly addressed the challenges that a reclassification may present. ETIRA suggested that it would be acceptable for cartridges to be included under the scope of WEEE only under the condition that sufficient tools are in place to allow a full availability if empties; and it was agreed that both UBA and ETIRA will explore the different ways to facilitate this.

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Cartridge World launches campaign in support of New Jersey legislation

March 27, 2014

stoptheinksanityThe US arm of the franchise has launched “Stop the Ink-Sanity” to endorse the recently-vetoed bill, which would force companies to list the yield of the cartridge on every box.

Cartridge World’s press release noted that the bill may “help 200,000 small businesses” by “protect[ing] consumers and businesses against questionable pricing tactics by printer manufacturers”, with the “Stop the Ink-Sanity” campaign aiming to “shed a light on printer manufacturers’ pricing tactics”.

The legislation was first advanced and agreed in January earlier this year, before New Jersey State Governor Chris Christie vetoed it in February, and it was at the time that Cartridge World’s stores in the New York and New Jersey area, under Master Franchisee Greg Carafello, began a radio campaign to take advantage of the opportunity to introduce more consumers to remanufactured and refilled cartridges.

The latest news on the legislation, according to Cartridge World, is that it has “passed out of the assembly committee and is currently awaiting hearing on the full assembly floor in the next few weeks”, with Carafello stating that the bill aims to help the “200,000 small businesses in New Jersey [that] easily pay $3,000 (€2,179) per year in printer cartridges”, as well as the homeowners who “can spend $50 (€36) or more per year”, which adds up to “$1 billion (€726.6 million) in New Jersey alone!”

Calling the costs “outrageous”, Carafello added that “in a year, the cost for ink can be five times the amount of the printer”, and noted that businesses and consumers can “absolutely” fight back by “stop[ping] shopping at office superstores”, which are “selling printers that manufacturers incentivise them to stock, and cheap printers that drink ink. The worst printers use tri-colour ink cartridges that need fast replacement – but the superstores never tell you that”.

He noted in turn that Cartridge World will “probably suggest you buy high-yield cartridges to double your printing output”, as well as calculating that if businesses can be saved from $1,000 to $5,000 (€726 to €3,633) a year, that could “save new Jersey’s business owners $200 million (€145.3 million) or more every year”. The campaign, he went on, shows Cartridge World “clearly understand[s] the support for the bill […] we’ve stepped up efforts to educate the public about cost-saving solutions”.

Bill Swanson, CEO of Cartridge World North America, added of the campaign: “We will gladly show businesses how to identify printers that use high-yield printer cartridges that match their actual printing needs. Cartridge World’s eco-friendly products are great for the environment and your wallet.”

Carafello recently reported how he has become successful as the master franchisee for the New York and New Jersey areas.

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Static Control wins right to sue Lexmark over false advertising

March 26, 2014

Attorney Joseph Smith (second from left) with Static Control's Dale Lewis, William London, Bill Swartz and Michael Swartz

Attorney Joseph Smith (second from left) with Static Control’s Dale Lewis, William London, Bill Swartz and Michael Swartz

The largest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components was favoured in a unanimous decision by Supreme Court judges in the false advertising case, giving Static the right to sue Lexmark under the Lanham Act.

The company reported that the unanimous decision, which was passed down yesterday, means that Static Control now “has the right to sue Lexmark on grounds of false advertising” under the Lanham Act, with regards to the OEM’s ‘Prebate’ programme.

The case relates to the first case in 2002, where Lexmark sued Static Control, and was successful in getting counterclaims from Static thrown out. The claims are based, stated Static, on Lexmark “falsely telling remanufacturers that remanufacturing ‘Prebate’ cartridges was illegal”, with the Lanham Act used against Lexmark as it “prohibits false advertising”.

The case went to trial in 2007, where a jury ruled in Static’s favour, and after this trial, Static “successfully convinced” the Sixth Court of Appeals to reinstate its claims for Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices and false advertising against Lexmark. This was rejected by the trail court, but the Sixth Court reinstated it, and Lexmark then asked the Supreme Court to overrule this in March last year.

The request from the OEM was granted in June 2013, with Static responding soon after, and the Supreme Court proceedings began in December 2013, with Static again reporting from the Court.

Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court wrote the opinion, which was adopted by all nine justices, and which read: “Static Control adequately alleged proximate causation by alleging that it designed, manufactured, and sold microchips that both (1) were necessary for, and (2) had no other use than, refurbishing Lexmark toner cartridges. It follows from that allegation that any false advertising that reduced the remanufacturers’ business necessarily injured Static Control as well.”

Static Control’s President Bill Swartz commented: “We are extremely pleased the Supreme Court agrees Lexmark should be held accountable for its actions. I only wish Ed, our founder, my father, were here to enjoy this victory with us.”

William London, the company’s General Counsel, added: “The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision should send a strong message to Lexmark. We plan to move forward with our false advertising suit against Lexmark and prove we were damaged by Lexmark’s false advertising.”

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