*NEWS*UPSTARTS SPREADS IN THE INK WARS
*NEWS*UPSTARTS SPREADS IN THE INK WARS
2005-11-02 at 10:14:00 am #14484
HP opens new front in war on refillers
One more cartridge reseller has been accused of violating some of HP’s 4,000 ink and cartridge patents
on Thursday accused a US cartridge reseller of refilling used printer
cartridges with ink that relies on a formula for an HP-patented ink
In a letter to Cartridge World, HP asked the company to stop
using inks with the same chemical composition that’s found in its
patented brand of Vivera inks. HP holds 9,000 patents related to
imaging and printing, 4,000 of them for consumable supplies such as ink
Although not an official legal action, the letter to
Cartridge World is part of a broader attempt to crack down on the ink
cartridge refill industry, HP said.
“HP spends millions of dollars
annually in R&D to create innovations that benefit our customers,
and we are rigorous in our protection of this investment,” Pradeep
Jotwani, senior vice president of supplies in HP’s Imaging and Printing
Group, said in a statement. “HP hopes that Cartridge World North
America will assist its franchisees in quickly complying with the law.”
said it found multiple instances of cartridges filled with the
infringing ink at Cartridge World’s US franchises. The cartridges
replace a handful of HP printer cartridges, including those numbered
56, 57 and 78, and would be used in HP’s DeskJet consumer printers.
with Cartridge World North America in Emeryville, California, and its
home office in Adelaide, South Australia, were not immediately
available to comment on the accusations.
Cartridge World, commonly
found in strip malls and in business parks, refills empty inkjet
cartridges from printer makers such as HP, Epson, Canon and Lexmark
International and sells them at heavily discounted rates. For example,
Cartridge World sells an HP 56-compatible cartridge for $17.72 instead
of its usual retail price of $35.35 (£10.03 instead of £20.02). A
discounted HP 78-compatible cartridge that retails for $53.07 sells for
$26.57 under Cartridge World pricing.
Separately, HP said it settled its false-advertising lawsuit against Rhinotek Computer Products of Carson, California
acquires used HP ink cartridges and refills them with generic ink prior
to resale. HP’s suit alleged that Rhinotek’s packaging failed to tell
consumers that the “compatible” products are used.
denied any wrongdoing, but has agreed, among other things, to modify
its packaging. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
HP said it is using the Cartridge World and Rhinotek cases to draw attention to its intellectual-property rights.
has lost more than most of the other vendors in the aftermarket because
they sell more than any other vendor,” said John Shane, a director at
InfoTrends/CAP Ventures and an industry expert on the ink and toner
The estimated retail value for cartridges used in HP inkjet
machines in the United States in 2004 was about $6.3bn, according to
Shane. That’s just more than half the $12bn Shane estimates as the
amount for all cartridges for all machines used for desktops last year.
even though HP printer cartridges make up the majority, the company
itself controls only 88 percent of the retail value. The remaining
portion of that cartridge demand goes to refilling companies such as
Cartridge World, InkCycle and Rhinotek.
“HP products tend to be a
little more difficult to recreate in the generic market because the
refilling companies can’t make print heads, but a good portion of HP’s
cartridge business is getting eaten up,” Shane said.
The case draws many similarities to one that HP settled in June with InkCycle.
initially filed the lawsuit in March 2005 after it discovered that
refilled inkjet cartridges sold under the Staples brand contained
patent-infringing ink. HP filed the lawsuit, but reached the settlement
before going to court. InkCycle eventually changed its ink formula.