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Seiko Epson awarded patent for ink billing system

July 26, 2013

inkOEM’s assigned patent for method of billing customers based on amount of ink used rather than number of cartridges. reported that Seiko Epson has been assigned patent number 8489521, filed on 2 November 2006, for “an ink billing system and ink billing method for invoicing based on usage of ink, toner, or other printing fluids, printing liquids, or other printing material”.

In the background information to the patent, it explains that “more recently, manufacturers have developed new billing systems for charging the printer user based on the amount of ink consumed in addition to selling individual cartridges”, explaining that “Japanese Unexamined Patent Appl. Pub. 2002-36582 discloses a billing system in which the inkjet printer uses optical sensors to measure how much ink remains in the ink cartridge, and calculates ink usage based on how much ink remains”.

It continues: “A data processing device connected to the inkjet printer acquires data relating how much ink is used […] from the inkjet printer, and sends data relating to ink usage over a network to a server in a service centre. The billing module that runs on the service centre server then references an ink billing table to calculate the billing amount based on ink usage and bills the user.”

The use of an ink billing system such as this could be deployed by printer manufacturers that provide “multiple printers to a client company”, with the amount of ink used by the client’s multiple printers calculated and charged to the customer. The article notes that “the printer manufacturer can expect clients that use many printers will use a large amount of ink, and providing other value-added services as part of the ink billing process can therefore be very effective”.

A further benefit would be that if the printer manufacturer deals with a number of different companies, it can “tailor the additional services offered to different clients”.

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