ETIRA to analyse significant Canon patent

July 25, 2014

The European trade association is going to look into the granted patent, which it says “seeks to monopolise” remanufacturing techniques.

An image from the patent document

An image from the patent document

ETIRA stated that patents on remanufacturing methods “are a permanent nuisance for our industry”, adding that “ETIRA does not support them if they render the legitimate activity of remanufacturing cartridges impossible”.

The patent, EP 1 536 297 B1, was granted to the OEM on 8 January this year, 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 Recycler reported on the patent’s significance in March earlier this year, and ETIRA noted that the industry has identified it as “a potential risk” with over 180 claims that seek to “monopolise basic techniques that have been used by many remanufacturers for years”.

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 180 claims in the patent, ETIRA adds, are “yet another example of the ridiculous approach followed by the European Patent Office (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”. The association noted that its experts would look “in-depth” at the patent to analyse “the implications for the industry”, and you can view the patent in full here.

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ETIRA speaks at Static Control seminar in Italy

July 24, 2014

Salerno, Italy

Salerno, Italy

Vincent van Dijk highlighted dangers of selling clones at seminar in Salerno.

The seminar, hosted by the largest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components, was held in Salerno, Italy on 17 July as part of a programme of “information intensive” sessions that have been held across Europe by Static Control since 25 April.

As with each of the sessions, ETIRA had a presence at the event, with Secretary General Vincent van Dijk attending to raise awareness and educate remanufacturers and the sales channel about the dangers of clones. He presented to the audience the dangers involved when firms sell clones, highlighting the recent OEM legal actions against aftermarket companies all over Europe.

ETIRA also used the event as an opportunity to promote the benefits of becoming an ETIRA member. The association has announced that TNK Supplies (Refill Express) of Thessaloniki, Greece recently joined as a member, following ETIRA’s attendance at Static Control’s information session held in Athens on 7 May.

In addition to Greece and Italy, Static Control has held information sessions in Poland, Latvia, Romania, and France and the UK.

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HP-Autonomy case now involves the Vatican

July 21, 2014

autonomy-logoThe long-running legal case has now involved the head of the Catholic Church.

Chicago Tribune reported on the Vatican’s involvement in the legal case between HP and the founders of Autonomy, which it acquired in 2012 and the deal for which has seen the OEM accuse Autonomy founder Michael Lynch of misleading it about the company’s finances.

The case began back in November 2012 when HP claimed Autonomy “misled” it and its shareholders about the state of its finances, with HP shareholders suing the OEM for loss of money as a consequence of poor quarterly results after the acquisition.

HP had revealed that in acquiring Autonomy, it had been forced to take an $8.8 billion (€6.4 billion) “impairment charge” in November 2012, with over $5 billion (€3.6 billion) of this said by HP to be due to “serious accounting improprieties, misrepresentation and disclosure failures”.

The Vatican’s involvement comes due to the “proposed use” of Autonomy software to “help digitise the Vatican’s library”, which Chicago Tribune noted “potentially lends support to HP’s accusation that Autonomy booked sales” in account documents “even when the intended end-user had not decided to buy the software”.

According to sources, one of Autonomy’s resellers, MicroTechnologies LLC (MicroTech) had been booked in by the company as having resold Autonomy software to the Vatican worth $11.5 million (€8.5 million) in revenue, but the Vatican says it “did not purchase the software” from either Autonomy or MicroTech; despite this, Autonomy booked in the transaction based on it selling the software to MicroTech.

The sources stated that the deal “illustrates one way in which HP contends the software company gave a distorted impression of how rapidly it was growing”, and according to another source, Autonomy’s move to book revenue like this “was permissible under UK accounting standards” as well as being “blessed” by auditor company Deloitte.

Further evidence showed that MicroTech wrote to the Vatican library “seeking payment” for the software earlier this year, with CEO and President Anthony Jimenez stating Autonomy had requested MicroTech buy the software so that his company could “participate as a reseller”, with MicroTech “surprised” to see another company, NTT Data Corp. from Japan, announce it had been selected to digitise the library.

Jiminez asked the library if Autonomy software had been used at all, and when payment was made for the software “and who received it”, with his request for receipt and payment meeting a response from library prefect Monsignore Cesare Pasini, which stated that the assumption Autonomy software was used “is absolutely false”, with no involvement agreed and that the library has “never dealt with Microtech”; both HP and Jiminez declined to comment on the reports.

The Recycler reported last month that HP had settled a long-running court case with its own shareholders over the disastrous deal.

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MSE awarded European remanufacturing patent

July 18, 2014

An image from MSE's granted patent

An image from MSE’s granted patent

The remanufacturer has been granted a patent for remanufacturing an inkjet cartridge.

The document,  EP 2 230 083 B1, refers to a process for “remanufacturing a spent inkjet printer cartridge” comprising a housing, printhead, contacts and other components, with the remanufacturer patenting the method step-by-step.

The document first refers to “removing the cap” and “removing the foam”, before “removing ink from inside of the housing”, and then heating the cartridge to “loosen adhesive between the flexible board and the cartridge housing”.

After removing the printhead and adhesive and creating “a new printhead mounting surface” by cutting both out, the document refers to “washing the housing” before drying it, “installing a new filter”, “applying new adhesive” onto the mounting surface and “placing a new print head assembly” on the surface.

The final step discusses “pressing the new printhead assembly onto the new printhead mounting surface at a predetermined location”.

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Pelikan Holding accepts consolidation plans

July 17, 2014

PelikanBoard of Pelikan Holding accepts Malaysian parent company’s proposal to integrate subsidiaries into Herlitz.

OPI reported that Switzerland-based stationery firm Pelikan Holding has accepted its parent company, Pelikan International Corporation Bhd’s proposal to integrate “a number of” its subsidiaries into Herlitz, whose assets were acquired by Pelikan Holding in December last year.

In addition to the consolidation of its stationery manufacturing business, Pelikan International proposed to change the name of Herlitz to Pelikan; with the proposals “now in the hands of external consultants before final approval of the board”. Final proposals will be given to shareholders for approval during an “extraordinary general meeting” to take place at an unspecified date.

The Recycler has reported recently on Pelikan International’s plans to list some of its units and assets in Germany; including an asset injection into the company and its 96.45 percent-owned Switzerland unit, Pelikan Holding AG, into Herlitz AG for 1.19 billion ringgit ($375.28 million/€275.63 million). However, the plans failed to impress shareholders, with the company’s shares falling 11.6 percent following the announcement.

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Static Control hires new Unit Business Manager

July 16, 2014

Nick Bush

Nick Bush

The largest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components hired Nick Bush to lead its UK and Scandanvia sales team.

Bush’s appointment to the sales department, effective as of 7 July, will see him head the UK and Scandanavia sales team, and Static Control stated that he brings “vast experience in business development and account management”, with prior jobs in the wide-format inkjet cartridge industry.

In the wide-format market, he dealt with OEMs such as Xerox and Fuji as well as “resellers, dealers and network partners”, and before moving to wide-format cartridges, Bush previously worked in both print graphics and graphic supplies, where he held account management and business development responsibilities.

Bush stated: “I am delighted to take up this opportunity with the industry’s market leader. I’m confident I will provide the right experience and capability to strengthen the UK and Scandinavia team, and bring significant value to the company in the process.”

Jason Doran, Static Control’s Sales Manager for Western Europe, added: “Nick is a welcome addition to the UK sales team and we look forward to his support in moving the business forward. As demand grows for high quality imaging solutions throughout Europe, Static Control will continue taking measures to ensure we have the very best people in place to deliver unrivalled customer service and support.”

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OCP celebrates 20 years in business

July 14, 2014

OCP's Horst Edelmeier

OCP’s Horst Edelmeier

12 August will mark the German ink manufacturer’s 20th anniversary.

Founded on 12 August 1994 by Horst Edelmeier and Dr Siegfried Koch, OCP has now been successfully operating as a high-quality ink manufacturer for two decades. Edelmeier, who was CEO of the company until December 2013 and who is now the Chairman of the Supervisory Board, explained that “due to luck, which you need in life, we were able to start the development of our inks the next day after founding the company, and that is why we were able to start the sale of our inks just two months later, in October 1994”.

The company began with water-based inks – first developing dye inks before moving on to pigment inks as well. “We were lucky to have found the right partners,” said Edelmeier. “Partners in terms of the right vendors as well as worldwide distribution partners. Over the whole 20 years we only had to cancel one contract – all other partners remain with us for years and years. The oldest one – Graphicone, France- has been with us for nearly 18 years.”

He added that this longevity in OCP’s business relationships due to its high-quality inks “was and is still the basis for our business success”, and noted that “all our partners around the globe know that we are never their competitor. We have only ever been an ink maker, and will remain being only an ink maker in the future”.

Looking ahead, while Edelmeier noted that the company “cannot survive manufacturing desktop inks for the refilling of inkjet cartridges alone” and needs “new applications and to develop inks for other markets too”; he emphasised that OCP “will not leave the refilling industry”, adding that the company’s objective is to “be as long as possible a reliable, trustful partner of the refilling industry.

“We thank today, after 20 years of success, everybody who has helped us to achieve our existing, excellent market position”.

You can read more about OCP’s anniversary in our upcoming magazine – issue 261.

If you would like to congratulate Horst and Siegfried for their 20-year milestone, you can email Edelmeier@ocp.de for Horst and Sk@ocp.de for Siegfried.

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Pelikan shares fall following plans to list assets

July 11, 2014

PelikanInvestors show lack of enthusiasm for stationery manufacturer’s plans to list units and assets in Germany, with shares falling 11.6 percent.

The Star reported that shares of Pelikan International Corp Bhd fell by 11.6 percent, or 16 sen ($0.05/€0.037) following the stationery manufacturer’s announcement of its plans to inject some of its units and assets, along with its 96.45 percent-owned Swiss-listed unit Pelikan Holding AG, into its 70.92 percent-owned Germany-listed subsidiary, Herlitz Aktiengesellschaft, earlier this week.

The move is expected to raise €266 million ($362 million), in exchange for 266 million new bearer shares of one euro each in Herlitz. However, market observers reportedly noted a “lack of enthusiasm” for the plans “as most investors did not regard it as a major catalyst for the counter”.

An analyst explained that “the corporate exercise announced by Pelikan is somewhat neutral to the company’s shares, as what investors want to see more is a solid turnaround by the company, which has been loss-making in the last three years […]  in that sense, the next few quarterly results will be crucial for Pelikan to build investor confidence”.

Pelikan’s plans form part of the final stage of its reorganisation plan, and would also reportedly include “a proposed private placement of up to 50 million Herlitz shares at a minimum offer price of one euro apiece, an offer for sale by Pelikan of up to 30 million Herlitz shares, and an offer for sale by Pelikan Holding of up to 30 million Herlitz shares”, which would raise RM491.3 million ($154.2 million/€113.3 million) towards “business development, working capital and the paring down of its debts”.

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“Royalty alliance” created to stop patent trolls

July 10, 2014

Patent  DefinedCanon and Google create alliance allowing members to get a royalty-free license to patents sold by participating companies in a bid to prevent infringement suits from patent trolls.

Businessweek reported on the formation by Canon and Google of the License on Transfer (LOT) Network, with the aim of limiting licensing firms who license the patents with the main objective of demanding royalties and filing infringement suits against companies using the related technology.

Companies participating in the alliance will pledge that, should they sell some of their patents, “all members of the group automatically get a royalty-free license to them”; with six companies so far committing to join the network, including Canon, Google, business-software maker Sap AG, internet retailer Newegg Inc., data storage company Dropbox Inc. and software maker Asana Inc., which was started by Facebook Inc. co-founder Dustin Moskovitz. These companies together reportedly own almost 300,000 patents and applications.

Moscovitz commented that the LOT Network “will be a no-brainer for start-ups”, as they will want to limit their exposure to lawsuits. Eric Schulman, Legal Director of Google’s patent team Mountain View, added: “The hope is people will see the benefits of the network effect here and the cycle of selling patents to licensing companies will end.”

Meanwhile Brett Alten, Head of intellectual property at Dropbox, said: “Patents are great for innovation and when used properly they foster innovation. If a LOT member owns the patents, they can do whatever they want, but if they transfer the patent outside the network, then the folks inside the network get a license. It really leads people to reach out and find ways to work with each other.”

The Recycler has reported on numerous cases in the past where OEMs have spoken out against patent trolls, with HP launching a petition last year against 40 shell companies that had been acting on behalf of MPHJ Technology Investments demanding royalty payments from SMBs.

Ricoh and Xerox had also challenged the same shell companies, filing an “inter partes” review request at the patent office in an attempt to prove that the scanning patent MPHJ was trying to enforce was not in fact patentable.

However, a more recent case saw MPHJ file four lawsuits against four different companies, including Coca Cola, claiming that they had infringed patents relating to scan-to-email functions used by employees.

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Pelikan to raise millions listing assets in Germany

July 9, 2014

Pelikan's headquarters in Malaysia

Pelikan’s headquarters in Malaysia

Malaysian stationery manufacturer expected to raise around $155 million by listing some of its units and assets in Germany.

Reuters reported on Pelikan International Corporation Bhd’s plans to list some of its units and assets in Germany; including “an asset injection into the company and its 96.45 percent-owned Switzerland unit, Pelikan Holding AG, into Herlitz AG for 1.19 billion ringgit ($375.28 million/€275.63 million).

The move is expected to raise at least $154.98 million (€113.83 million), with Pelikan also receiving 266 million new shares in Herlitz, “of which Pelikan now holds a 70.92 percent stake”. This in turn will allow the company to “unlock the value of its various stationery businesses and provide funds for growth”.

The proposed listing is reportedly “to be done via private placements and offers for sale”; with Pelikan also proposing a “private placement of up to 50 million Herlitz shares, at a minimum offer price of €1 ($1.36) each”, as well as “the offer for sale of up to 30 million Herlitz shares” by Pelikan and Pelikan AG.

The Recycler reported at the end of last year that German subsidiary Pelikan Holding AG had acquired Herlitz assets, including the sales business and administrative functions of the company, following Pelikan’s earlier announcement that it would consolidate its German operations to “cut the losses” made by the Herlitz Group “on a standalone basis”.

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