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ETIRA opposes Canon’s latest IP case

December 17, 2014

The OEM has filed complaints against Armor, Artech and Pelikan over the same patent as other European cases this year, and ETIRA has responded by saying it “regrets” that the action has taken place.

The District Court of Dusseldorf

The District Court of Dusseldorf

Canon’s announcement saw it file a patent infringement complaint in Germany with the District Court of Düsseldorf against Armor SA, Artech GmbH and Pelikan Vertriebsgesellschaft mbh & Co. KG – alongside other Pelikan companies – for “infringement of the German portion of Canon’s European patent” number EP 2 087 407. Artech is Armor’s German manufacturing subsidiary, while Pelikan Vertriebsgesellschaft mbh & Co. is one of Pelikan International’s German subsidiaries based in Hanover – and is itself a subsidiary of Pelikan Holding AG, the company responsible for printing supplies in Europe.

The OEM has undertaken other IP cases against companies across Europe throughout 2014 relating to the same gear patent: including Seine and Aster in the Netherlands; KMP and wta as well as tintenalarm.de in Germany; European Cartridge Warehouse Limited and Printer Supplies Technology Limited in the UK; Zephyr SAS and Aster in France; and X-Com Shop Ltd. and OOO “Softrade” in Russia. It also began district court and USITC cases in the USA in February and May.

It added that the infringement is for “the offering and sale of certain toner cartridges for use in various models of Hewlett-Packard laser beam printers”, with the patent itself referring to “a drum unit to be used in a process cartridge”, with Canon seeking “injunctive relief and damages”. The OEM added that “throughout the development, sales and marketing process, Canon respects the intellectual property rights of other companies and individuals and expects others to do the same. Canon remains committed to taking legal action against anyone who does not respect Canon’s intellectual property rights”.

European trade association ETIRA responded to the case by noting that it “regrets” that the action has taken place, adding that “as a rule, ETIRA supports the rights of OEMs to protect their intellectual property rights against fully new-built, one-on-one copied, low quality cartridges from China, dumped on the European market without any consideration for patents held by the printer manufacturer.

“But repairing the empty original OEM cartridge after its first use, and then reusing it as a cartridge, is not a patent infringement anywhere in  the world. Rather, it is a perfectly legal, and environment-friendly, lower cost alternative choice for the European consumer. Remanufacturing original cartridges has been done for more than 25 years, so it’s a well-established practice. Even some printer manufacturers remanufacture cartridges!”

The association’s Secretary General, Vincent van Dijk, added that he is “confident that also the German courts will agree” with ETIRA’s perspective, “just like most other printer manufacturers in Europe do”, and noted that “other printer manufacturers have also taken legal action against patent-infringing new-built copies recently. But unlike Canon, those printer manufacturers don’t fight the reuse of their empty cartridge as a cartridge.

“In fact, those companies recognise the European consumer’s universal right to reuse a used product if he wants to. They also see the strong desire in European society towards a circular economy, as promoted by the new EU Commission policies on eco-design and lower energy use of products. ETIRA calls on Canon to do the same. We will always defend the legal right to remanufacture an original cartridge”.

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