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 user 2007-06-07 at 3:19:00 pm Views: 45
  • #18155

    Epson’s Appeal Turned down Again in Patent Infringement Trial against Ecorica
    2007 Japan’s Intellectual Property High Court (IPHC) turned down a
    petition in Seiko Epson Corp.’s appeal case (2006(Ne)10077 Appeal Case
    of Seeking Injunction and Compensation against Patent Infringement)
    which accused Ecorica Inc. of ink cartridge-related patent infringement
    (Japanese Patent No. 3257597) and sought an injunction and damages. The
    case was first brought to the Tokyo District Court where it was
    rejected in October 2006, and Epson appealed against the decision on
    the same day.

    The patent in question was applied on February
    1992, and Epson filed divisional applications based on this parent
    application in December 2000. When a divisional application has the
    same content to that of the parent application, retroactive application
    is possible in which the filing date of the divisional application
    dates back to the parent application date. Otherwise, the filing date
    of the divisional application will be the day on which it is actually
    applied. According to the ruling by the Tokyo District Court, since the
    application made in December 2000 did not meet the requirements for
    divisional application, the filing date would also be December 2000. In
    addition, the Court revoked the patent included in the December 2002
    application because it was identical to the patent disclosed in the
    patent gazette published in April 1992 (Japanese Patent Laid-open No.
    Hei 4-257452, also applied by Epson), and therefore, lacked the
    novelty. Once again, the patent is revoked by the IPHC based on the
    judgment that it does not meet the requirements for the divisional

    When recycling (i.e. refilling ink into) Epson’s
    ink cartridges, Ecorica uses a packing to replace the sealing provided
    on the cartridge. The major issue of the dispute was whether or not
    this packing corresponds to the “annular sealing member” invented and
    claimed by Epson. The judgments concerning this issue were suspended in
    both the first and second trials because Epson’s petition was
    groundless as the patent supporting the company’s right was deemed to
    be invalid.

    Epson is considering appealing the case to the
    Supreme Court of Japan, stating that “the ruling is illegal and based
    on a misinterpretation of patent law.” The company comments that the
    planned action is strictly according to the “law-abiding management,”
    but is not to “deny remanufactured products.” Further, the company
    emphasizes its efforts towards recycling.

    On the other hand,
    Ecorica said “The manufacturer for genuine product had tried to
    illegally extend its patent right in order to contain recycled ink
    cartridges (products remanufactured from the collected used cartridges
    by refilling ink for use again), but the court decide to revoke the
    patent itself.” The company also gives a certain credit to the ruling,
    as it was “quite appropriate and conforming to the social trends” in
    the growing momentum toward environmental protection. However, the
    company pointed out that although “the execution of right by the
    genuine product manufacturer was restricted” in the trial, it does not
    focus on the issue regarding recycling and “exhaustion of patent
    rights” and the problem of genuine product manufacturer who obstructs
    recycling manufacturers’ market entry. “We are not saying we can ignore
    the rights possessed by the manufacturers just because recycling is
    environmentally friendly,” Ecorica commented, “We are very disappointed
    as a recycling manufacturer that the discussion did not cover the
    viewpoint concerning the balance with the environment.”Ecorica has
    requested an approval for supplemental participation in the trial
    between Canon Inc. and Recycle Assist Co., Ltd. and has expressed its
    opinion that the issue regarding recycling and patent right exhaustion
    should be discussed thoroughly in the Supreme Court. The case of Canon
    vs. Recycle Assist is pending, after the latter won in the first trial
    at the Tokyo District Court and the former won in the second trial at
    the IPHC.