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wta and KMP appeal against Canon verdict

June 9, 2016

The remanufacturers have reportedly decided to appeal the “dongle gear” case in Germany.

The District Court of Dusseldorf

The District Court of Dusseldorf

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. This related to the so-called “dongle gear” used in toner cartridges from the OEM, which also included Canon’s case and eventual GEO from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC).

The European patent, EP 2 087 407, refers to a “drum unit and a process cartridge”, with the infringement suit covering “inter alia, the manufacturing, offer and sale of certain toner cartridges for use in various models of Canon and Hewlett-Packard German laser beam printers”. The OEM stated that it was “seeking injunctive relief and damages”, while both companies responded to the case soon after.

Now, Digital Imaging (German) has reported that the two remanufacturers have appealed “against the judgement” of the court, and hope to reopen “the two proceedings before the Supreme Court in Karlsruhe”. Noting that Dusseldorf “is generally regarded as [a] very friendly jurisdiction of patent owners”, the site believes that “it will be interesting” to see what the verdict of the judges might be this time.

The patent at the centre of the case was also used by Canon in a wide range of other European cases in 2014 and 2015, including against Armor, Artech and Pelikan; 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.

The article also references the Armor, Artech and Pelikan case, with both the district and regional courts in Dusseldorf following the “reasoning of Canon”, but the regional court had “approved a revision in federal court” in its judgement, with this expiring on 10 June. As a result, KMP and WTA – according to a “reliable source” of Digital Imaging’s – plan to “appeal against the judgements”, thus reopening the case.

With the Karlsruhe court, there would be no appeal, and Digital Imaging adds that Canon’s case focuses on the OPC, but that the OPC “is a wearing part that must be replaced during the reprocessing of a cartridge, to ensure high quality of the remanufactured product”.

Both remanufacturers argued this point and cited patent law exhaustion, with a replacement of the OPC argued to be a repair, and the news site believes that the case could affect “even the entire spare parts industry”. It concluded that the appeal case could take a “year or more before” a negotiated conclusion might happen.

The Recycler has contacted wta and KMP for comment.

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