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OEM patent applications to affect industry?

September 15, 2016

An image from the Canon application

An image from the Canon application

A series of applications in Europe from Canon and HP Inc could affect compatible manufacturers and remanufacturers.

Canon’s application, EP 3 045 979 A1, covers a toner cartridge and drum unit, with the document discussing the cartridge casing’s connections to the couplings and outside, as well as a “retracting part”. This is a particularly relevant and potentially significant document because it seems to be related to a variation on the dongle gear, which has in recent years been at the centre of aftermarket legal cases concerning Canon.

The dongle gear patent has been used by Canon in a wide range of other European cases, including against Armor, Artech and Pelikan; Aster in the Netherlands; KMP and wta as well as in Germany; European Cartridge Warehouse Limited and Printer Supplies Technology Limited in the UK; Zephyr SAS and Aster in France; X-Com Shop Ltd and OOO “Softrade” in Russia; and most recently, J&H Greentech & Trading Ltd in Italy.

The OEM reported in May 2014 that it had filed two patent infringement suits in Germany at the District Court of Dusseldorf against wta Carsten Weser GmbH and KMP PrintTechnik AG for “infringement of the German portion” of a European patent covering drum units in toner cartridges. In June this year, The Recycler reported that both companies had launched an appeal against the case in Germany.


An image from HP Inc’s second application

The OEM also began a dongle gear case at the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) in May 2014, following in the wake of its first case at the District Court for the Southern District of New York, which began in February 2014, and it won a General Exclusion Order (GEO) in the case last September.

The first of two HP Inc applications is interesting, with the document – EP 3 039 615 A1 – aiming to patent a cartridge “comprising an auto-destruct feature”. This feature is operated through an “interconnect circuit” that communicates with the printer, and features a “carrier storing an authenticity verification code” read by a scanning device “other than the host device”. The “auto-destruct feature” then renders this code “unreadable” when the cartridge is installed.

The second HP Inc application – EP 3 039 490 A1 – refers to “supply authentication”, and is relevant to compatible manufacturers and remanufacturers because it goes on to refer to a “timing challenge response”, and the authentication system contains an algorithm that can “issue a cryptographic timing challenge”. Should the cartridge provide a “challenge response corresponding to an expected response within an expected time window”, it will be authenticated.

This seems particularly relevant at this time given that many in the industry are reporting that HP Inc’s latest firmware update has locked out remanufactured and refilled cartridges, which The Recycler reported on here and here.

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