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Printer manufacturers face French lawsuit

September 20, 2017

Executives from HP, Canon, Epson and Brother could be handed a prison sentence and all companies face hefty fines if found guilty.

Environmental association, Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (Stop Planned Obsolescence) announced this week that four global printing manufacturers  face a criminal lawsuit in France over claims that they deliberately limit the lifespan of their machines.

The association brought the lawsuit to the Court of the Republic of Nanterre, in accordance with new legislation that was introduced by France to ensure that household appliances are more durable and long-lasting. It is the first case to arise as a result of the 2015 legislation.

As a result of the new law, executives from the four printer manufacturers face a maximum sentence of two years in prison and will also be handed a maximum fine of €300, 000 if found guilty. In addition, the companies could be fined 5 percent of the average annual revenue they have received over the previous three years.

The French environmental association says that HP, Canon, Epson and Brother “have all broken the law by encouraging consumers to buy new printers instead of prolonging the lives of their old ones.”

Laetitia Vasseur, founder of the association, stated, “The association was alerted by numerous people scandalised by the short lifespan of printers and ink cartridges. We have reason to believe there is truly a problem.” The association’s lawyer, Emile Meunier, said, “Millions of French print owners could be wronged.”

Epson is a particular focus of the lawsuit, with the association claiming that its ink cartridges had been programmed to stop working when 20 percent of the ink still remained. The lawsuit also alleges a similar issue with the company’s ink pads, declaring, “The price of repairing or changing the ink pad (is) roughly the same as the price of buying a new printer.”

Stop Planned Obsolescence has also denounced a continuous increase in the price of cartridges, with the ink costing twice as much as Chanel No 5 perfume, as well as denouncing the willingness of manufacturers to hinder the use of generic cartridges that are most cost effective for consumers.

To date, Epson has offered no comment in response to the claims, and  Brother and HP have also declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Canon has stated to The Times that it would “co-operate with the authorities and that it was committed to sustainable economic growth.”

Stop Planned Obsolescence has declared that it is now up to the Prosecutor to decide what action to take. If there is no prosecution, the association plans to file a civil action directly with the examining magistrate. 


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