Samsung sues six resellers in Germany

August 21, 2014

District Court I Munich

District Court I Munich

Injunctions ruled against six unnamed resellers in the District Court I Munich for selling and distributing replica toner cartridges.

Digital Imaging reported on the patent infringement case issued by Samsung regarding illegal replica toner cartridges which has resulted in injunctions adopted against six resellers, with the ruling announced in the District Court I Munich on 21 July.

The case relates to “the sale and distribution of illegal replica toner cartridges” described as “newly manufactured, unlicensed, non-original toner cartridges” which Samsung had identified as being in circulation. These include the printer series CLP-310 / CLX-3170, CLP-320 / CLX-3180, CLP-365 / CLX-3305, Xpress M2825 / M4025 2875 and ProXpress / 4075th.

Interestingly, the article notes that the legal action “not only protects the intellectual property of the company. In addition, it is also intended to protect the rights and interests of the customers and the companies that manufacture and sell environmentally friendly, remanufactured toner cartridges”.

The resellers involved in the case “may appeal against this court decision”.

Samsung made a similar infringement claim in November 2013 against seven German cartridge resellers, four of which had appealed – HQ cartridges of Seevetal, CNN PrintPool of Hamburg, Großneuhausen-based Kolor Office Supplies, and North-Toner of Oststeinbek. A preliminary injunction had been issued against the resellers on 22 and 26 November in the District Court I Munich. The trial date had originally been scheduled for 24 April but has since been postponed twice.

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US investment bank reveals role in MSE-Clover merger

August 14, 2014

Intrepid Investment Bankers worked with MSE during the merger process.clovermse

The bank reported in a press release on its role in the merger between the two remanufacturers, which The Recycler reported in late June, and which was officially completed in July.

The bank, which states it is a “middle-market investment bank”, served as MSE’s “exclusive financial adviser” during the merger process, noting that it also “initiated the transaction and assisted with negotiations” between the two companies, before the aforementioned completion of the merger in July. It added that the “strategic alliance” between the two companies would “leverage MSE’s patented technologies and proprietary processes”.

Yoel Wazana, MSE’s President and Founder, stated that the bank had “brought high energy, creativity and a collaborative approach to the process”, whilst Avi Wazana, MSE’s CEO, added: “We’re thrilled with the result that Intrepid helped deliver. As a family-owned business, we’re committed to the success of our customers. Intrepid’s dedication and creativity in this process reflects a similar commitment.”

James Freedman, Chairman and Managing Director of Intrepid Investment Bankers, also commeneted: “MSE’s management team has built an impressive platform over the past 20 years. MSE’s intelligent re-engineering platform combined with Clover’s scale will help expand the reach of high-quality remanufactured toner cartridges in the marketplace, better serving the consolidated global customer base. We’re excited to have been a part of this merger.”

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MSE announces lean production lines

August 12, 2014

MSEcolourUse of lean production lines will increase capacity to meet “growing demand” at remanufacturer’s California facility.

MSE announced that it has increased its capacity through the use of lean production lines at its manufacturing facility in California, with the improved output helping to meet the growing demand the company is experiencing.

According to the company, the past five years have seen rapid growth which has created “welcome” challenges in materials storage and line capacities; particularly as new engines are added to existing lines. MSE’s automation and manufacturing engineers, led by Director of Technology Mark Hayes, have therefore introduced lean production line models; allowing for increased capacities, more cartridges per labour hour and greater throughput “all while making enhancements to MSE’s already rigorous QC protocols”.

Commenting on the development, Hayes said: “Our first line was designed in 2012 and setup in early 2013, and we saw immediate dividends in regards to efficiencies and workmanship. Each of these work station lean lines has step-by-step instructions and critical attention checkpoints. Not only are we achieving desired results with productivity and increased capacity, we believe these increased efficiencies will drive even better reliability.”

MSE also recently employed two lean lines for the 64/90/4200/4300 families, “immediately” resulting in increased product availability; while the company stated that its colour growth will soon be addressed by the opening of a lean line for high-demand colour families.

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Supplies Wholesalers opens new distribution centre

August 7, 2014

The US-based importer and wholesaler opened a centre in Reno, Nevada.

The new warehouse in Reno, Nevada

The new warehouse in Reno, Nevada

The distribution centre in Reno, which opened this week, is said by the company to be able to serve 11 western states in the USA, and combined with another distribution centre in Memphis, Tennessee, Supplies Wholesalers can deliver to 85 percent of the US population in one to two days, using delivery company FedEx’s Ground delivery system.

The Reno centre also features a storage capacity of over 1,000 pallets in rack, as well as the ability to fulfil “thousands of orders daily”. As a result of the centre’s opening, Supplies Wholesalers reported that it can now stock over half a million compatible and remanufactured printer cartridges across the USA.

The company attended the 2014 ITEX event in Las Vegas earlier this year, and stated last September  that it had seen “no disruption” to its business from the General Exclusion Order (GEO) handed down by the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) in relation to Canon’s 2012 patent infringement case against a number of aftermarket companies.

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Canon wins lawsuit against AlphaChem

August 6, 2014

The OEM won a case in South Korea against the drum manufacturer.

South Korea's Supreme Court

South Korea’s Supreme Court

Canon reported earlier today that it had won an IP lawsuit in the Korean Supreme Court against Korean photosensitive drum manufacturer AlphaChem, with the ruling handed down on 24 July.

The “favourable” decisions granted to Canon have affirmed both the Korean Patent Court and Seoul High Court’s earlier rulings, which accused AlphaChem of patent infringement concerning photosensitive drums for use in toner cartridges, with the patent in question Korean patent number 258,609.

In turn, the Korean Supreme Court also ruled that the High Court’s decision that “the ruling of the patent invalidation made by the Korean Trade Commission” in an investigation against five photosensitive drum manufacturers “should be revoked”, with all decisions from the Supreme Court both “final” and unable to “be appealed”.

Canon stated that the ruling of patent infringement given against AlphaChem “is final”, and as such the company “can no longer make or sell the infringing photosensitive drums”. The OEM stated that “throughout the development, sales and marketing process, Canon respects the intellectual property of other companies and individuals, and expects these entities to similarly respect Canon’s intellectual property rights”.

The Recycler reported in 2011 on a number of manufacturers of photosensitive drums being acquitted of patent infringement accusations from Canon in South Korea.

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HP claims Autonomy CEO should be “held accountable”

August 5, 2014

autonomy-logoDispute escalates as OEM lodges court papers, with founder of Autonomy accused of fraud.

The Guardian reported that HP stated in court papers that Michael Lynch, CEO of Autonomy, should be “held accountable” for allegedly conducting fraud against the OEM; with Autonomy’s former CFO Sushovan Hussain also to be sued by the company.

However, Hussain is reportedly “seeking to block” the settlement by HP of “three shareholder lawsuits” related to its purchase of Autonomy in 2011 for $11.1 billion (€8.3 billion). HP had written down the value of Autonomy by $8.8 billion (€6.6 billion) a year later, accusing Autonomy officials of “accounting fraud” despite the officials denying the accusations.

The settlement saw shareholders agree to “end efforts to force current and former HP officials […] to pay damages to HP over its Autonomy purchase”, with the shareholders instead agreeing to “help HP pursue claims against former Autonomy officials”.

In a court filing, HP stated: “The notion that [Hussain] should be permitted to intervene and challenge the substance of a settlement designed to protect the interests of the company he defrauded is ludicrous […] the shareholder plaintiffs who originally sued HP’s directors and officers now agree that Hussain, along with Autonomy’s founder and CEO, Michael Lynch, should be held accountable for this fraud.”

However, Hussain remarked in a court filing that the settlement is “collusive and unfair”, and if it is approved by a federal judge it would allow HP to “forever bury from disclosure the real reason for its 2012 write-down of Autonomy: HP’s own destruction of Autonomy’s success after the acquisition”.

He added: “This breathless ranting from HP is the sort of personal smear we’ve come to expect. As the emotional outbursts go up, the access to facts seems to go down.”

Autonomy claimed in a statement that “Meg Whitman is buying off a bunch of lawyers so she doesn’t have to answer charges of incompetence and misdirection in front of a judge and jury”; while in an open letter from March, Lynch accused Whitman of making “incendiary and defamatory” accusations.

Lynch also claimed that “HP has not provided information or evidence to the Autonomy team to substantiate any allegation. Instead, it has selectively leaked documents and information to the international media, frequently using material taken out of context to create false impressions and smear our reputations”. In addition, he said that he believes HP knew about “certain Autonomy sales practices months before” shareholders were told that a whistleblower had discovered them.

The article stated that so far “the HP court filing is by far the strongest set of accusations levelled at either side in the Autonomy row”.

The Recycler reported recently that the Vatican has now become involved in the dispute 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”.

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Turbon reveals “good outlook” after half-year results

August 1, 2014

Turbon Group's global headquarters in Germany

Turbon Group’s global headquarters in Germany

The remanufacturer reported increases across the board for the first half of the financial year.

The company reported (German only) that both turnover and operating profit figures for the first half of 2014 “are in line with our expectations and confirm the positive […] trend” after its two acquisitions in the last year, of ILG in December 2013 and Clarity in September 2013.

It noted that its results in 2013 were “formed in the course of further ongoing contract negotiations” in relation to the two acquisitions, with group sales for the first half of the year reaching €53.3 million ($71.3 million), in comparison to last year’s half yearly sales of €37.4 million ($50 million). In turn, sales had increased in the first quarter of the year alone by €1.7 million ($2.2 million).

Additionally, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) for the half year came to €5.6 million ($7.4 million), in comparison to last year’s €2.9 million ($3.8 million), with income before taxes reaching €5.2 million ($6.9 million) compared to 2013’s €2.2 million ($2.9 million). Finally, consolidated net income amounted to €3.7 million ($4.9 million), a growth on 2013’s €1.4 million ($1.8 million).

Turbon commented that “based on the current information”, it is adapting its outlook for the full year to expect “consolidated sales” of over €105 million ($140 million), as well as profit before tax of at least €8.5 million ($11.3 million). The company had reported a 33 percent rise in sales in May earlier this year, and recently announced its partnership with Embatex in Europe.

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Study finds consumers perceive remanufactured products as “dirty”

July 29, 2014

laser_ink_phone_recycleThe study by a US business college found that negative perceptions of remanufactured products as “dirty and disgusting” are leading to fewer purchases.

The reportRemanufactured Products in Closed-Loop Supply Chains for Consumer Goods, was written by Penn State Smeal College of Business’ faculty members Meg Meloy and V. Daniel R. Guide Jr., and states that remanufacturers in different industries “will have to overcome a big barrier” to “increase market share of remanufactured consumer products”, due to consumers perceiving many remanufactured products as “dirty and disgusting”.

Remanufacturing of a product means something that has been “disassembled, cleaned, and […] reassembled and returned to the market” after “replacement of any worn or defective parts”, according to the report, and the writers state that remanufacturing “represent[s] a significant opportunity for businesses aiming to increase sustainability”.

However, remanufactured products are said to “only account” for around five to 10 percent of the consumer market, and the report states that part of the reason for the low market share is “consumer perception that many of these products are dirty or disgusting”, despite the “thorough sterilisation process that products undergo as part of the remanufacturing process”.

Disgust “plays a particularly strong role” when the products are used in food or personal cleanliness, but the report’s authors note that these perceptions add a “previously undocumented and powerful predictor of remanufactured product attractiveness”, adding that “fully mitigating these negative perceptions […] may prove difficult”.

Even those who buy based on a product’s environmental credentials, who “are often more willing” to use remanufactured products for this reason, do not “necessarily have a significantly more positive perception of remanufactured products”, which was a finding running contrary to the report’s hypothesis that remanufacturing’s environmental benefits would be positive for users.

The authors added that “such a finding indicates that some green-minded consumers may not fully appreciate the potentially environmentally-friendly or green attributes of a remanufactured product”, and that remanufacturers “will need to reduce consumer perceptions of disgust directed at these products in order to make them more viable”.

Reminding consumers of the “environmentally-friendly aspects” of using remanufactured products would perhaps then increase “green” consumers’ “positive perceptions” of the products, and in turn “hold[s] promise as one way to potentially remove the barrier to this market”.

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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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