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USITC confirms Epson investigation

January 28, 2015

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) will undertake the investigation for the OEM against a number of aftermarket companies concerning patent infringement.USITC logo

The USITC reported in a notice filed on 21 January that it would be undertaking an investigation on behalf of Epson, with the OEM reporting in December 2014 that it would be seeking a General Exclusion Order (GEO) against 19 aftermarket companies over the infringement of one to five of its inkjet cartridge patents, specifically in terms of chips on “on-carriage cartridges” from a previous GEO.

The action was said by the OEM to “protect against unfair competition”, and seeks to block “all imports of ink cartridges that infringe Epson’s ink cartridge patents” from 19 companies it claims “manufacture, import or distribute” the infringing cartridges. The complaint “requests the ITC to issue a General Exclusion Order prohibiting these companies and all others from importing the infringing cartridges into the United States”.

The OEM added that it previously obtained a GEO in an action in 2006 “that is still enforced” concerning a “broad range of on-carriage cartridges” for both consumer and business inkjet machines. In terms of the US patents named in the action, these include: 8,366,233; 8,454,116; 8,794,749; 8,801,163 and 8,882,513.

The announcement last week from the USITC notes that it will undertake a section 337 investigation, which will see the USITC “institute an investigation” and afterwards “issue a general exclusion order” as well as “cease and desist orders”. The USITC added that the investigation would “determine whether there is a violation” of the patents Epson claims have been infringed, and noted that defendants needed to respond to the allegations within 20 days of 21 January.

Failure to respond to the claims, it adds, “may be deemed to constitute a waiver of the right to appear and contest the allegations”, as well as to “authorise the administrative law judge” and the USITC itself to “find the facts to be as alleged in the complaint”, with those companies that do not contest nor respond to the allegations found guilty in their absence and subject to the GEO if passed.

The cartridges at the centre of the case are “installed immediately behind the printhead of inkjet printers”, and the case concerns alleged infringement of five further patents that “relate to the functionality of IC chips on many of the same on-carriage cartridges” covered in the previous GEO in 2006. Epson adds that the new case also concerns “many off-carriage cartridges for current Epson business and professional large-format inkjet printers”, with off-carriage cartridges “larger capacity cartridges installed to the side of the printer cartridge and connected to the printhead with ink supply tubes”.

Among the companies named in the case was Zhuhai Richeng Development Co. Ltd., who responded to the case by apologising to Epson earlier this month. Richeng stated that it was sorry for “the inconvenience”, and “will never let this issue happen again”. You can view the letter of apology here.

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Epson launches RIPS machines in the USA

January 22, 2015

The machines released include three new devices, including two MFPs and one single-function printer.epsonrips

The OEM, which previously announced the technology alongside devices including the WorkForce Pro WF-R5690DWF and WF-5190DW in March last year, has released three machines utilising the replaceable ink pack system (RIPS) in the US market, adding that the machines “enabl[e] hassle-free business printing” as well as “exceptional” return-on-investment (ROI) with “uncompromised print quality”.

The WF-R5690 and WF-5190 are included in this range (not as DWF or DW machines) alongside the WorkForce Pro WF-R8590 printer, with each of the three devices said by Epson to be able to deliver up to 75,000 black and colour pages “before the ink needs to be replaced”, allowing users to “print high-impact colour documents with low operating costs and intervention rates”. The WF-R8590 and WF-R5690 are MFPs, while the WF-R5190 is a single-function machine.

The WF-R8590 in turn is Epson’s “fastest business colour printing solution” with speeds of 24 ISO ppm in black and colour alongside a 1,830-sheet capacity and A3 media support, while the WF-R5690 and WF-R5190 can reach speeds of 20 ISO ppm in black and colour and feature a 580-sheet capacity, with a slightly lower yield of 50,000 pages before replacement ink is needed.

Other features of the printers include USB, Ethernet and wireless connectivity, compatibility with Epson’s Wi-Fi Direct mobile printing application, remote and cloud printing, and “support for popular security protocols” as well as “remote setup and custom settings”.

Larry Trevarthen, Epson America’s Director of Business Imaging, commented: “Epson’s revolutionary approach transforms office printing by allowing businesses to focus on running their business, not on managing printer supplies. Epson’s new printing solutions allow IT managers to bring affordable colour printing to remote offices and workgroups while reducing the hassles normally associated with printer management.”

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Richeng apologises to Epson over IP case

January 12, 2015

528ed378258e8The Chinese company wrote a formal letter of apology for “the inconvenience” after being named in the recent infringement case, noting that it “will never let this issue happen again”.

The letter, which you can view here, is from General Manager Li Pin and is addressed to Seiko Epson Corporation, Epson America Inc. and Epson Portland Inc., and implores the companies to “accept this letter as our formal letter of apology for the inconvenience” that the USITC (United States International Trade Commission) 337 case “has caused you”.

The case was announced late last year, naming 19 defendants including Richeng at the USITC in order to seek a General Exclusion Order (GEO) over the infringement of one to five inkjet cartridge patents, specifically in terms of chips on “on-carriage cartridges” from a previous GEO. The action was said to “protect against unfair competition”, and seeks to block “all imports of ink cartridges that infringe Epson’s ink cartridge patents”, with a previous GEO in 2006 “still enforced” concerning a “broad range of on-carriage cartridges” for consumer and business inkjet machines also relevant.

The cartridges are “installed immediately behind the printhead of inkjet printers”, and the case concerns infringement of five patents that “relate to the functionality of IC chips on many of the same on-carriage cartridges” covered in the previous GEO. The new case also concerns “many off-carriage cartridges for current Epson business and professional large-format inkjet printers”, with off-carriage cartridges “larger capacity cartridges installed to the side of the printer cartridge and connected to the printhead with ink supply tubes”. In terms of the US patents named in the action, these include: 8,366,233; 8,454,116; 8,794,749; 8,801,163 and 8,882,513.

Richeng’s letter continues by noting that “we here at Zhuhai Richeng Development Co., Ltd. assure you that this issue is not a common problem”, and that the company discovered “through our internal review process” that the reason it was named in the case “was due to the fact that all of our product was stocked in our US warehouse many years ago, at which time we did not realise it would cause the patent problem”

Richeng’s letter goes on to state that the company “deeply understand[s] the seriousness of the situation we are in, and will never let this issue happen again”, noting that to “ensure that this will not be a repeat occurrence” it will “set up a class to improve our patent knowledge and hold a meeting to [ensure] all of our staff realise the seriousness of the patent problem”

Richeng states that it is “so sorry about what happened, we did not realise our behaviour would violate your company[‘s patents]”, and that over the “next few months we will work to prevent this from happening again”, commenting that it has a “great appreciation” for Epson “as a global imaging and innovation leader […] Richeng has always respected Epson and will continue to treat Epson as our idol”.

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Epson files new USITC inkjet cartridge case

December 24, 2014

The USITC's headquarters in Washington D.C.

The USITC’s headquarters in Washington D.C.

The OEM is seeking a General Exclusion Order (GEO) against 19 aftermarket companies over the infringement of one to five of its inkjet cartridge patents, specifically in terms of chips on “on-carriage cartridges” from a previous GEO.

The action is said by the OEM to “protect against unfair competition”, and the GEO seeks to block “all imports of ink cartridges that infringe Epson’s ink cartridge patents” from 19 companies that it claims “manufacture, import or distribute aftermarket ink cartridges in the United States that infringe one or more of five Epson patents”.

The complaint was filed by two Epson US subsidiaries – Epson Portland Inc. and Epson America Inc. – alongside Seiko Epson Corp., and “requests the ITC to issue a General Exclusion Order prohibiting these companies and all others from importing the infringing cartridges into the United States”. The OEM added that it previously obtained a GEO in an action in 2006 “that is still enforced” concerning a “broad range of on-carriage cartridges” for both consumer and business inkjet machines.

These cartridges are “installed immediately behind the printhead of inkjet printers”, and the case concerns alleged infringement of five further patents that “relate to the functionality of IC chips on many of the same on-carriage cartridges” covered in the previous GEO in 2006. Epson adds that the new case also concerns “many off-carriage cartridges for current Epson business and professional large-format inkjet printers”, with off-carriage cartridges “larger capacity cartridges installed to the side of the printer cartridge and connected to the printhead with ink supply tubes”.

In terms of the US patents named in the action, these include: 8,366,233; 8,454,116; 8,794,749;  8,801,163 and 8,882,513, and the nineteen companies consist of the following:

-Zhuhai Nano Digital Technology Co., Ltd.

-Nano Business & Technology, Inc.

-Zhuhai National Resources & Jingjie Imaging Products Co. Ltd.

-Huebon Co., Ltd.

-Chancen Co. Ltd.

-Zhuhai Rich Imaging Technology Co., Ltd.

-Shanghai Orink Infotech International Co.Ltd.

-Orink Infotech International Co. Ltd.

-Zinyaw LLC

-Yotat Group Co., Ltd.

-Yotat (Zhuhai) Technology Co. Ltd.

-Ourway Image Co. Ltd.

-Kingway Image Co. Ltd.

-Zhuhai Chinamate Technology Co. Ltd.

-InkPro2day, LLC

-Dongguan Ocbestjet Printer Consumables Co. Ltd.

-Ocbestjet Printer Consumables (HK) Co. Ltd.

-Aomya Printer Consumables (Zhuhai) Co. Ltd.

-Zhuhai Richeng Development Co. Ltd.

Epson commented: “Epson has made continuous worldwide investments in R&D and large investments in manufacturing in the United States to produce high quality, innovative cartridges. These ITC actions are part of Epson’s worldwide efforts to protect the company and its customers from unfair competition of all types, including the sale of patent-infringing ink cartridges.”

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Epson America releases new WorkForce range

December 9, 2014

Epson's WF-8590

Epson’s WF-8590

The OEM has launched the Pro 8000 A3 inkjet series for small businesses.

eWeek reported on Epson America’s release of the WorkForce Pro 8000 A3 inkjet range, consisting of the WF-8590 and WF-8090 printers and designed to “deliver colour printing with low intervention for small businesses and corporate workgroups”. The devices utilise the OEM’s PrecisionCore printheads, and include a wide range of features for business users.

These include a universal printer driver, PIN number security for controlled user access, web security including SSL (secure sockets layer) and IPsec (internet protocol security), print speeds of up to 24ppm, a duty cycle of up to 75,000 pages, and the ability to use a “variety of media” including envelopes and labels. The WF-8590 is an MFP and the WF-8090 a single-function printer, and both have cartridges with yields of 7,000 pages in colour, as well as paper capacity of 1,830 sheets.

Other features consist of automatic duplexing, wireless connectivity, compatibility with Epson’s mobile printing app Wi-Fi Direct, and cloud scanning and printing. The devices are also able to use PrintFleet, ECi and other MPS software solutions, and are enabled for “remote printer data collection”, and will be available from January 2015.

Larry Trevarthen, Epson America’s Director of Business Imaging, stated: “Epson printers are designed to address secure printing and also integrate seamlessly into network printing environments from small to large organisations. As companies seek to manage costs and use more centralised printing devices versus desktop devices, end-users who require secure printing need solutions with functionality that allows print jobs to be completed only after they identify themselves to the printer, so other end users are unable to collect the print job.

“Today’s office printers must be flexible enough to print from the variety of business applications that customers are using for their information needs. While 10 years ago a printer could suffice with great PC and network connectivity, today’s office printer must be compatible with web applications, wireless networks, mobile and tablet devices, and cloud services. Therefore, customers want to be able to convert their information to paper seamlessly from any of these touch points and devices, without the need to bring it back to a PC for local or network printing.”

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Epson announces new Filipino printer plant

December 3, 2014

The plant will open in spring 2017, use solar power for half of its electricity consumption, and require 20,000 staff.

Epson's Filipino plant - the new site is marked out in blue

Epson’s Filipino plant – the new site is marked out in blue

The announcement from Epson noted that its subsidiary, Epson Precision (Philippines) Inc., will “construct a new plant for increasing inkjet printer and 3LCD project production volumes” at its existing site in Batanga, with ¥12.3 billion ($10.3 million/€8.3 million) to be invested in the plant’s “state-of-the-art” facilities. The OEM added that it will be “constructed inside the existing site by the early part of 2017”, with operations “slated to begin” in spring that year.

Epson revealed in turn that it plans to “install a mega solar power generation system” on the roof of the new building, which will utilise its approximate capacity of 3,000 kWh to “reduce overall daytime electricity consumption […] by half”. The decision to extend the plant comes from Epson’s implementation of its “mid-range business plan”, which has determined its current inkjet printer and projector manufacturing sites – in China, Indonesia and the Philippines – are “insufficient to meet expected demand”.

In terms of inkjet printers specifically, Epson has predicted the need to “significantly boost production capacity” for the high-capacity ink tank printers it produces, which are “currently experiencing rapid growth”, as well as for office inkjets, which are said to be making “steady inroads into the market”. The OEM also referred to the growth in demand for projectors in business and education, and that it believes its growth in this market will “surpass” its competitors.

Finally, it noted that the workforce at the current site – which is 12,500 – will expand to 20,000 to “respond to the planned increase in production”, while the construction of the new plant “will have no material impact” on the OEM’s results at the end of the financial year. The new site will take up 100,000 square metres of the site’s 230,000 square metre footprint, with the existing buildings only taking up 85,000 square metres.

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Epson wins two marketing awards

November 27, 2014

Epson-Team-Receiving-the-Gold-AwardOEM picks up awards in Singapore for its ‘ThINK Outside the Printer’ campaign.

Manila Standard Today reported that Epson Southeast Asia won two Marketing Excellence Awards – the Gold Award for Excellence in Marketing Communications and the Silver Award for Excellence in Integrated Marketing B2B, with the awards organised by Singapore-based Marketing Magazine.

The OEM won the awards for its ‘ThINK Outside the Printer’ campaign, which has been running over two phases since February 2014 and is targeted at SOHOs and SMEs in Southeast Asia that may benefit from using ink tank printers. The first award “recognises the best marketing campaign, initiative or programme that conveys compelling messages to its target audience while driving core business objectives”; while the second award “recognises the best organisation that effectively engages its B2B partners through an integrated marketing strategy by employing a suite of marketing tools and media channels while driving core business objectives”.

The campaign included a media strategy comprising “print and out-of-home (OOH) advertising, in-store communications, social media, and SME event activations” covering Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. It also included the creation of a marketing video, ‘The Interview’, which was viewed over 600,000 times on the OEM’s YouTube channel.

Endo Koichi, Managing Director for Epson Southeast Asia, said: “We are thrilled to receive this recognition for our efforts from such a prestigious organisation […] Epson is redefining and challenging the printer category with the introduction of the original ink tank printers. The research data shows ink tank printers are gaining market traction and disruption has started. We have a unique value proposition, what was needed in this region was a consistent message coupled with high brand and product visibility delivered through a cohesive media strategy.”

Meanwhile Siew Jin Kiat, General Manager, Inkjet and Laser Printing Division at Epson Southeast Asia, said: “Among the more traditional source[s] of influence like OOH, newspaper, and magazines, small businesses make their printer purchases from researching online, walking up to stores and talk[ing] to promoters, and base[d] on word-of-month […] the opportunity is there for us to introduce ink tank printers into their minds to change their perceptions before the next decision cycle.”

According to the Manila Standard Today, “Epson saw an increase in inkjet market share” during the second quarter of the year compared to the first “as a result of the campaign”.

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Epson launches new WorkForce Pro range

November 20, 2014

Epson's WorkForce 5690DWF

Epson’s WorkForce 5690DWF

The WorkForce Pro 5000 series features the newest PrecisionCore printhead technology.

ITWeb reported on the launch of the range in the South African market, though this is the first release of machines aimed at businesses to use the new printheads, which were announced last September, and since the OEM revealed it had expanded its production capacity to create more of the printheads.

The WorkForce Pro 5000 series consists of a range of single and multi-function printers “designed to offer high quality output, durability, and cost and energy efficiency” for businesses. The four machines include the WF-5690DWF, WF-5190DW, WF-5620DWF and the WF-5110DW2, and Epson says that they are “designed to cut costs and reduce environmental impact”.

Their features include high-capacity inkjet cartridges with yields of 4,000 pages, a “50 percent lower cost per page than competitive colour lasers”, a permanent PrecisionCore printhead that “means there are fewer components to replace”, 80 percent lower energy consumption “compared to colour lasers”, and print speeds of 34ppm in monochrome and 30ppm in colour. Other inclusive features are a monthly duty cycle of 35,000 pages, automatic duplexing, wireless and mobile connectivity, and Epson DURABrite Ultra ink in the cartridges.

Kelvin Reynolds, General Manager of Epson South Africa, stated: “PrecisionCore offers a leap forward in printing performance. We continue to deliver outstanding quality thanks to superior dot control, and have now introduced a new and original system to ensure reliability.

“Together with our new PrecisionCore technology, the new WorkForce Pro 5000 series offers small, medium and large businesses a new approach to printing based on choice, performance, economy and ecology. We have responded to users’ demands for high-quality, reliable, functional, high-performance and cost-effective products, which this new printer series will deliver.”

Epson also previously added WorkForce machines that featured the new technology in September earlier this year.

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Epson offers free tablet with printers

November 7, 2014

The OEM is running a European promotion until the end of the year.

Epson's Stylus Pro 3880 and the Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch

Epson’s Stylus Pro 3880 and the Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch

The Drum reported on Epson’s “pan-European” promotion with ATOM Marketing, which offers printer consumers who buy a Stylus Pro 3880 machine a free tablet computer, a Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch. The tablet, according to the website, “allows users to edit and perfect digital images, complementing the printer’s high-end photo printing capabilities”, and the promotion “is currently live and runs until the end of the year”.

Andy Duff, Managing Director of ATOM Marketing, stated: “In a market saturated by cash back offers, the Wacom graphics tablet promotion differentiates Epson from their competitors by communicating a unique offering. Customers purchasing this printer tend to be photo enthusiasts, and as the Wacom graphics tablet is perfect for photo editing, this will be a very desirable promotional marketing campaign.”

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Epson releases smallest inkjet in USA

November 5, 2014

Epson's WorkForce WF-100

Epson’s WorkForce WF-100

The WorkForce WF-100 is designed for “professionals on-the-go”.

The device is similar to the one launched in September in Europe – the WorkForce WF-100W – and is also referred to as the “world’s smallest and lightest mobile printer” with built-in wireless connectivity and an “integrated rechargeable battery” to enable “printing from nearly anywhere”.

The printer’s Wi-Fi Direct feature allows for printing “without a router”, whilst the in-built battery can charge via USB or an AC adapter, and an automatic “power-off” feature helps save battery life. Epson added that the prints are “professional-quality business documents”, whilst the speeds include 6.7 ISO ppm in black and 3.8 ISO ppm in colour for borderless four-inch by six-inch photos.

The mobile printing features allow compatibility with a wide range of Epson and third-party mobile printing programmes, including Epson’s Connect suite consisting of Email Print, Creative Print, iPrint, Remote Print and others. The third-party mobile printing offerings meanwhile include Android, Kindle Fire and Google Cloud Print support.

Nils Madden, Epson America’s Marketing Director for Desktop Imaging and Printing, stated: “Mobile devices are critical tools for professionals, and the sleek, portable, wireless WorkForce WF-100 augments the mobile experience, enabling users to stay productive on-the-go. The WorkForce WF-100 not only expands our portfolio of business printing solutions, but underscores our commitment to delivering tools that meet the evolving needs of today’s mobile workforce.”

The WorkForce WF-100 is available online now, and in stores from January 2015, for $349.99 (€280.12).

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