HP was still in merger talks after split

October 16, 2014

The OEM was still looking to merge with EMC even after splitting into two new companies.hplogonew

BostInno reported on how the merger talks “seem to have ended” between HP and cloud technology company EMC, “probably over the price” of such a deal, with Reuters confirming that “executives from the two companies were still trying to hammer to a deal as recently as last week, but talks bogged down on price and are now dead”.

The news site noted that the price being a sticking point “was no surprise”, as the previous announcement that the two companies were looking to merge late last month mentioned a “price impasse” that halted negotiations. The interesting aspect of the developments is that negotiations “apparently resumed” after HP announced its plans to split into two companies, which The Recycler reported on here.

HP reported it will split its PC and printing businesses into HP Inc., whilst its software and services offerings will form Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, but the previous talks between it and EMC had seen it plan to spin off its PC and printing businesses in the merger, so it can be seen that the split would not have affected any potential merger.

Joseph Wittine of Longbow Research added that “an EMC valuation of $33 to $34 (€25 to €26)” would “get the deal done” between the two companies, with EMC’s stock worth $27 (€21) earlier this week, but BostInno stated that a “generous premium may have caused” HP CEO Meg Whitman to turn down the deal “considering all of the other benefits EMC would gain” in comparison to what HP would.

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Inkjet conference deemed “tremendous success”

October 15, 2014

ESMA_IJC14_ConferenceFirst ever ‘The Inkjet Conference’ event received excellent ratings from attendees and speakers.

The European Specialist Printing Manufacturer’s Association (ESMA) announced that the first ever ‘The Inkjet Conference’ event was a “tremendous success” in bringing together technical and academic experts in inkjet and digital printing, with the two-day conference in Neuss, Dusseldorf attracting more than 300 attendees earlier this month.

The conference, hosted by ESMA and sponsored by drupa, was described by Sidel SpA’s Stefano Corradini as “an excellent collection point for today’s experts in the world of digital printing”, with 41 industry experts delivering over 30 presentations on topics such as UV-LED systems, piezo inkjet for precision dispensing of functional materials, system integration from an ink point of view, improving the inkjet industry by implementing intelligent sensors, and industrial inkjet for packaging.

Industry and academic leaders in their fields spoke about the latest advances and future developments driving digital print, with the conference focusing on inkjet engineering, a review on fluid and ink components such as nano particles, conductive, aqueous and UV inks, and an academic track open to all universities and non-commercial research institutes to present their work.

Rick Hulme of ink manufacturer Sun Chemical, noted that the event was a “new and exciting conference which has brought the industry together to discuss inkjet, its capabilities and opportunities, both now and in the future”, while fellow attendee Luc Van Damme said it was “a great starting point to follow the developmental course of DOD and nanoparticles throughout the next exciting upcoming years”. The range of attendees was also welcomed by Xaar’s Jason Remnant, who said that it “help[ed] broaden customer opportunities and networking options”.

Steve Knight, Founder of Digital Direct, who runs ‘The Inkjet Conference’, said: “As well as the updates on the significant technological steps being made by suppliers and experts in this arena, the event also presented the wealth of opportunities for collaboration, inter-industry developments and cross-market adoption.”

Meanwhile, Peter Buttiens, CEO of ESMA, commented: “The energy and buzz surrounding the first edition of ‘The Inkjet Conference’is indicative of the excitement we are seeing across the industry regarding the capabilities the new technology is offering. It is so interesting to be a part of the conversation that is exploring what the next steps could and should be.”

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Print-Rite appears on Times Square screens

October 13, 2014

printritetimessquare2014The company’s CEO Arnald Ho appeared on screens in New York City.

The company appeared on screens in New York City’s Times Square for the second time, after appearing in February 2012, and stated that it is the “only aftermarket manufacturer that has been [featured on] Times Square twice”.

The appearance formed part of the company’s brand new “corporate driving message”, entitled ‘Our innovation, Your success!’, which Print-Rite states goes alongside “elements of innovation and being green”, with the company “employing a new way to tell its brand story and its core corporate value of innovation”.

Adding to its reveal of the Times Square appearance, Print-Rite acknowledged the recent settlement between itself and Canon in the USA, stating that it “resolved the case with Canon in a prompt and professional manner with a strong understanding and respect [of] intellectual property”.

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ITDL expansion on track

October 10, 2014

ITDL's new plant under construction

ITDL’s new plant under construction

Toner manufacturer plans to have expansion completed by end of financial year 2014, boosting total production capacity to 3,000 metric tons per year.

Akshat Jain, President of New Delhi-based Indian Toners and Developers Ltd. (ITDL), told The Recycler that the new plant, which is located at the company’s subsidiary ITDL Imagetec Ltd.’s facility in Sitargunj, Uttarakhand, is “on track” to be completed by the end of the 2014 financial year as the company looks to meet the increasing demand of its customers in India and overseas.

While Jain explained that “there is no target as such” for the plant’s completion, he confirmed that “the plant and equipment have been ordered and are on their way from Germany and other parts, and as of now we are on target”. However, he added that “there are always delays of two to three weeks in installations” which could set the date back.

The Sitargunj Plant

The Sitargunj Plant

The plant will have a production capacity of 600 metric tons per year, taking the company’s overall production total to 3,000 metric tons per year; and Jain explained it is being built as “we have utilised 100 percent of our capacity at our Sitargunj facility”. Both mono and dual component mechanically-produced toners will be manufactured at the plant, and a significant number of jobs will be created as a result of the expansion.

“We want to make sure we deliver a quality product to our customers, because they deserve it,” said Jain, “This is how we will conduct business at ITDL.”

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US law professor criticises “weak” HP patent case

October 10, 2014

Graph showing IP cases in the USA in 2013 and 2014

Graph showing IP cases in the USA in 2013 and 2014

HP’s patents in its case against Ninestar and Apex are “seemingly weak”, and “clearly susceptible”, according to US professor.

PatentlyO posted an article from Dennis Crouch, Law Professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, who spoke about a “major drop in patent infringement litigation” in the USA over the past year, but also focused on the recent IP case against Apex Microelectronics and Ninestar on behalf of HP.

Noting that new litigation, or “original complaint filing”, is down 40 percent from the same time in 2013, Crouch said that this is likely down to “the Supreme Court’s recent patent law activity” to refine the US’ patent laws, as well as “additional legal issues that favour accused infringers”, including “fee-shifting”, “indefiniteness” and “post-issuance reviews”, all of which combine to “provide plenty of reason for patent holders to slow-down on complaint filings”.

Whilst this slow-down may not be clear with the aftermarket, Crouch focused on the recent HP case, stating that he was “surprised to see” that the three patents named in the case – 6,089,687, 6,264,301, and 6,454,381 – were “seemingly weak patents” which “serve as HP’s attempt to control the market for replacement ink cartridges”, and the claims for which are “clearly susceptible […] in that the seeming points of novelty are basically very simply data structures”.

He argues that the hardware components of the patents “were all known prior to the application” in the recent case, and that specifically with the 687 patent – which refers to parameters on the cartridge indicating volume and how full the cartridge is – the parameters in question were “also well known prior to the invention” (or registration of them in the patent), but that they had “never been put on an ink cartridge before”.

He concludes that “until recently, we would think this claim has an obviousness problem. Now it looks like it has patent eligibility problems as well”. Apex responded to the case recently,  and Static Control commented on the case as well.

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Static Control comments on HP case against Ninestar and Apex

October 9, 2014

Static controlThe largest manufacturer of aftermarket imaging systems and components is “pleased” to see the OEM protecting its IP.

The case in the USA was filed on 6 October in the United States District Court of Northern District of California, and accuses 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 Recycler reported on the case earlier this week, and has received a response from Apex Microelectronics (which you can view in the original article). Static Control’s comment on the case follows: “We are pleased to see the continuous actions of the OEMs protecting their IP. The low cost, illegitimate ‘copycat’ cartridges are bad for the environment, eat away at market share and erode margins.

“Actions like these are good for the OEM and create great opportunities for legitimate remanufacturers. Static Control has always respected the OEM in our support of legitimate remanufacturers. We refuse to sell to clone/copycat manufacturers and have remained vigilant in our pro-IP stance.”

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Oakdene Hollins discusses European remanufacturing

October 7, 2014

David Fitzsimons (right) with Oakdene Hollins employee Edward Sims and Aylesbury MP David Lidington. Credit: The Bucks Herald

David Fitzsimons (right) with Oakdene Hollins employee Edward Sims (left) and Aylesbury MP David Lidington (centre). Credit: The Bucks Herald

UK firm awarded grant to develop remanufacturing industry in Europe discusses importance of EU.

In an article on The Bucks Herald, David Fitzsimons, whose Aylesbury-based environmental consultancy firm Oakdene Hollins was recently awarded a €1.5 million ($1.9 million) grant from the EU to lead a project aiming to develop Europe’s remanufacturing industry, discussed why remanufacturing is important and how the EU helps in implementing the project.

Fitzsimons, who set up the consultancy 20 years ago with business partner Nick Morley, noted that while remanufacturing has “great potential”, Europe may be “in danger of falling behind its rivals”, although he added that “it’s not perfect, but without the EU it would be so much more difficult to co-ordinate things against the Chinese and Americans and you would see at every opportunity the French, German and British differences being exposed. It forces people to work together and that can be very helpful indeed. Nobody hears about this – when was the last time The Daily Mail wrote about that?”

The project Oakdene Hollins is to lead will identify potential markets for the remanufacturing industry as well as “encourage best practice and develop a European Council for Remanufacturers”, with the company’s 25 staff members – mainly made up of statisticians, economists and scientist – already advising organisations about “a whole range of sustainability issues” to enable them to “become more efficient and cut costs”.

On remanufacturing, Fitzsimons noted that there is not currently a great deal of public awareness: “Often consumers don’t know things have been remanufactured […] If you’re flying in an aeroplane, the pilot does not come on the speaker and say ‘you’ll be pleased to know 30 percent of the components have been remanufactured’.”

The project will be launched early next year.

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Three HP class actions settled in USA

October 3, 2014

hplogonewThe three actions claimed HP had “misled consumers” about its cartridges and when they needed to be replaced.

Courthouse News reported on the settlement, which was confirmed on 30 September, and which saw $1.35 million (€1.06 million) in fees paid to lawyers on behalf of the plaintiffs in all three class actions, numbering around 13 million people, though only 122,000 “filed claims” for coupons to be received as compensation.

All three of the class actions were submitted in 2007, with one case claiming HP “duped consumers into believing that they needed to replace the ink cartridges before the cartridges were empty”; another alleging HP “neglected to tell customers that its printers combined colours from ink cartridges to print black and white text”; and the final one claiming the OEM “concealed that some of the ink cartridges had expiration dates”.

The settlement saw HP agree to issue coupons, as mentioned above, for the value of between $2 and $6 (€1.58 and €4.75) to consumers, as well as “discontinue using certain pop-up messages showing an image of an ink gauge”, and to “disclose additional information through the packaging, user manuals, interfaces [of printers] and the HP website”.

One particularly interesting aspect of the settlement is its links to the HP-Autonomy situation, with US lawyer Ted Frank condemning the OEM’s settlement with its own shareholders because the law firm representing the shareholders, Cotchett Pitre & McCarthy, also represents the class action plaintiffs, with Frank fighting the class action settlement “for years on behalf of plaintiffs who weren’t happy with the deal”.

The settlement initially offered inkjet cartridge purchasers a $2 (€1.49) coupon but paid the lawyers $2.9 million (€2.1 million), which “seemed like high compensation to the lawyers for a meagre return to the plaintiffs”, and so Frank challenged the settlement, with an appeals court agreeing and sending the case back for negotiation; he believes that “most settlements are just paying off the attorneys”.

Frank stated that he founded his organisation “to intervene in cases where he felt lawyers were benefitting far more than their clients”, and he believes that the Autonomy settlement between HP and its shareholders “violates basic conflict-of-interest ideals”, as a law firm “shouldn’t be both suing and defending the same company at the same time”, with his document filed as part of the inkjet case to bring the Autonomy case to the court’s attention.

At the time the settlement was originally made, US District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel awarded $1.5 million (€1.18 million) in attorney fees and nearly $600,000 (€475,183) in costs, based on his conclusion that the “ultimate value” of the settlement to the class was approximately $1.5 million – a “significant step down” from the $7 million (€5.5 million) the law firm wanted, and a “slight reduction” from the $2.3 million (€1.8 million) that HP had agreed to pay.

On appeal, the ninth circuit court ruled the attorney fees must be “attributable to the award of coupons”, and must be calculated “using the redemption value of the coupons”, as it would be “improper for the fee award to outstrip” the class action benefit. The final amount of $1.5 million “reflects a 10 percent reduction in the amount previously awarded”, therefore, and Fogel “declined to disqualify” the law firm despite Frank’s objections.

Fogel concluded: “Given that the prior award of $1.5 million was meant to compensate class counsel for obtaining the entire settlement, including both the coupon and non-coupon aspects, and that the court’s current task is to compensate class counsel for obtaining only the non-coupon aspects of the settlement, the court concludes that it must reduce the original $1.5 million award to reflect those fees attributable to the coupon aspect of the settlement.”

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Asia-Pacific ink manufacturers speak on environment

October 3, 2014

images-5Companies discuss how they are looking to be more environmentally friendly.

Ink World Magazine reported how, in recent years, the Asia-Pacific region has grown to “become the largest geographic region for the printing ink industry”, and how there has also been an “increasing emphasis” on being environmentally-friendly and meeting international guidelines in the region. The news outlet notes that countries throughout the Asia-Pacific are “looking to remove ingredients that impact food packaging, as well as ingredients such as toluene that are concerns in terms of health”.

Toshihiko Fukunaga, General Manager of International Operations Division at Sakata INX, said: “We intend to acquire ISO 14001 and build plants that comply with environmental regulations and are on the same level as the developed country’s standards. We plan to emphasise deploying environmentally friendly ink. Recently, the demand for inkjet and UV inks has become stronger. We will focus on developing new products and expand sales for these inks.”

Ashwani Bhardwaj, Management for Asia and North America at hubergroup, added:“Government regulations are getting more stringent and ink companies are gradually upgrading their own manufacturing processes and standards. Awareness among the printers and end-users is growing and they are now demanding the ink manufacturers to follow the latest global product safety norms.

“The hubergroup is well placed to meet all these challenges. We have developed new UV products within our NewV product family, which have been launched worldwide. The NewV range of products meets the highest standards in terms of product safety. NewV products are highly appreciated by the customers.”

In turn, Yu Adachi, from Toyo Ink’s Corporate Communication Department, noted that an interest in toluene- and MEK-free inks has grown in the region: “Sales of our Multistar SW series line of eco-friendly toluene-free and MEK-free lamination gravure inks for packaging increased in China and Southeast Asia. Also, the Toyo Ink Group launched the high-grade LIOALPHA SW series of toluene-free and MEK-free lamination gravure inks in last year May. Multistar SW and LIOALPHA SW series are compliant with European regulations (Swiss Ordinance).”

Atsushi Egashira, General Manager for DIC Corp’s Corporate Communications Department, commented that DIC’s regional technical centre in Thailand is developing new, environmentally-friendly products: “Our regional technical centre in Thailand will facilitate our business by accelerating adjustments of products developed in other regions to needs in the region as well as enhancing our technical service to customers. This technical centre is supposed to work on challenging technical themes, including refining gravure inks for high-speed printing machines and introducing environment friendly products.”

Finally, Hideyuki Hinataya, President of Toka Ink International, said that LED UV curing is “one approach to reducing energy consumption”, and that LED UV and Hybrid presses “decrease the amount of energy used in the printing process […] raising awareness as regards to the environment, we aggressively introduced low energy curable inks for LED UV and Hybrid presses. At this moment, the number of installation of those presses in the Asia-Pacific region is lower than in the United States, Europe and Japan. However, we will keep paying attention to the market as a potential market.”

China has placed “large emphasis” on environmentally friendly and clean products, as it “tries to clean up its environment”, and Bauhinia Variegata Ink and Chemicals Ltd., a subsidiary of Yip’s Chemical and the “largest domestic ink supplier in China, emphasises environmentally friendly ink systems”, with a company spokesperson stating that R&D for every new product is “based on protecting the environment”, such as developing benzene- and ketone-free gravure ink products and soybean oil-based litho inks.

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UK manufacturing growth continues to slow

October 2, 2014

manufacturingSector sees slowest rate of growth since April 2013, falling to a PMI of 51.6.

The Guardian reported that the continued slow in growth may have been due to “uncertainty over the Scottish referendum, a flagging Eurozone economy, and slowing domestic demand”, with the PMI dropping from 52.2 in August to 51.6 in September – the lowest level since April last year; although anything over 50 still indicates expansion.

The result was the third monthly drop in the PMI index, which is based on output, orders, employment and prices; with the manufacturing sector indicating strong growth last year and up to the beginning of 2014, with April seeing a five-month high of 57.3.

During September, The Guardian reported, “new export orders barely grew”, while manufacturing in the Eurozone hit a 14-month low, with Germany and France – the region’s two biggest markets – lowering the overall PMI index to 50.3.

James Knightley, Economist at ING, said: “This is a 17-month low and further diminishes the prospect of Bank of England policy tightening in November. One possibility is that the uncertainty generated by the close polls in the lead-up to the Scottish independence referendum made businesses cautious and therefore led to a delay in orders.”

Meanwhile Rob Dobson, Senior Economist at Markit, said: “The strong upsurge in the UK manufacturing sector at the start of the year appears to have run its course. Inflows of new work slowed in both domestic and export markets. Overseas demand was reined in mainly by the ongoing lethargy of the eurozone and the appreciation of sterling against the euro.”

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