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Manufacturers acquitted in Canon patent case

September 28, 2011

Five manufacturers based in Korea have been acquitted of patent violations of Canon products by the Korean Trade Commission.

The five manufacturers, whose names were not revealed, were acquitted  late last week by the Korean Trade Commission after Canon’s formal complaint against tem in May this year.

The commission stated that their decision to acquit the companies was made after reviewing claims from all companies involved in the case, along with onsite inspections of facilities and technical evaluations from independent experts.

The case was brought by Canon as the OEM believed the manufacturers had infringed its patents for parts of the optical photo-conductive (OPC) drums used in all laser printers, and which allow the toner to bond to the paper. The OEM had wished for the KTC to stop the companies from manufacturing and exporting the drums.

The KTC stated that after a detailed examination of the case, Canon's patent claims were “excessive” and “could be abused” in such a way as to stop companies such as the five in question from legitimately manufacturing the components and drum, which is crucial to the operation of a toner cartridge. The manufacturing and export of the drums in turn could not then be considered unfair.

The acquittal of the manufacturers in this case marks a turning point in the recent climate of legal battles for aftermarket companies. Canon’s OPC drum, and the gears that attach it and turn in the cartridge, have formed a large part of a number of patent cases in the last few years, and the implications of the findings in this case are yet to be seen for both the OEM and the aftermarket.

Publisher David Connett discussed the implications of cases such as these in a recent blog post, Are the clones becoming legal?

What are your thoughts on the acquittal of the manufacturers in this case? What implications do you think this has for the aftermarket? Let us know and email our news team.