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HP takes legal action against Spanish resellers

March 15, 2012

Several Spanish companies are accused of importing and selling clone inkjet cartridges that infringe OEM patents.

Spanish lawyers Elzaburu have written to several Spanish companies importing and selling new cartridges alleging that the companies are importing, offering and selling inkjet cartridges that breach OEM patents.

HP claims that the cartridges infringe OEM patents ES2236176T3, EPI303411, ES2320976T3, EP1330359, EP1330358, ES2322031T3, ES2322028T3, and EP1330360.

According to documents translated from Spanish and seen by The Recycler, the infringing cartridges in question are the 21, 22, 27, 28, 56 and 57 series of cartridges, which are purported to possess an infringing print head.

The cartridges in question use several different types of printhead, whose characteristics can be seen by inspection of the surface of the printhead using a magnifying glass. According to the documents, the similarities between the OEM and the disputed products are not coincidental but are the unauthorized reproduction of the OEM’s technology.

The documents continue to state that the importation, placing on the market, offering, commercialisation and exporting of these cartridges is an infringement of the exclusive rights of the OEM’s patented inventions, under the provisions of Article 50 and following of the Patent Act.

In addition, some of the identified cartridges are falsely labelled as “remanufactured” which distorts the economic behaviour of those consumers committed to the environment, leading them to believe mistakenly that they have [purchased] recycled or remanufactured cartridges. This is an act of deception in accordance with the provisions of the Unfair Competition Law.

The documents warn that although the companies in question did not manufacture these products, this will not in any way absolve them of responsibility.

Recipients of the letter have 7 days to acknowledge the OEM’s intellectual property; immediately cease the importation, introduction in the market, offering, marketing and/or export of inkjet cartridges covered by this requirement; and remove all existing stock they hold in their facilities and require their distributors and their customers to return their units, to be sent to the OEM for destruction.

Recipients are also instructed to remove any images, photographs and references to the cartridges from their websites, catalogues and marketing materials; provide all available information on the manufacturer and of the infringing products, as well as disclose the complete information on the number of units imported, introduced, offered, marketed, and/or exported to and present, both in Spain and abroad; and agree to indemnify the OEM for damages.

Vincent van Dijk, Secretary General of ETIRA, commented: “As a group representing remanufacturers of used OEM cartridges, ETIRA is encouraged by the fact that OEMs are now finally acting against patent-infringing newbuilts.

“We are happy to see that HP now follows Samsung, who had already started similar legal action last month across Europe. We have always warned distributors and reselllers in Europe trading these products that they would be taken to court and pay heavy fines if they do not respect legitimate patents. If you play with fire, you will get burned.”

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