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 user 2010-05-10 at 9:51:37 am Views: 59
  • #23574
    Recent legal activity by HP finds the firm winding down one
    case against a group of aftermarketers while filing a new complaint with
    the International Trade Commission (ITC) against yet another list of
    third-party supplies companiesWhen HP filed its complaint in September,
    Lyra Research predicted that: “If HP was a bit lackadaisical in getting
    the current lawsuit out the door, the production of future cartridge
    lawsuits will be greatly accelerated.”With its most recent lawsuit, HP
    is taking action on ink jet technology that the firm has leveraged
    across multiple cartridges, leaving no doubt that the OEM is ratcheting
    up its efforts to stem the flow of revenue being diverted by unlawful
    means to aftermarket coffers.

    On 23 September, 2009, HP filed
    complaints with the ITC and the US District Court for the Central
    District of California against 11 manufacturers and sellers of
    HP-compatible aftermarket cartridges. This case involved compatible ink
    cartridges that, according to HP, violated multiple claims within four
    US patents used in the firm’s HP 02 ink cartridges.

    During the
    ensuing months, a number of these firms defaulted – Mextec Groupd/b/a
    Mipo America of Miami Beach, Florida; Shanghai Angel Printer Supplies of
    Shanghai, China; Shenzhen Print Media of Shenzhen, China; Zhuhai
    National Resources & Jingjie Imaging Products of Guangdong, China;
    Mipo International of Kowloon, Hong Kong; Tatrix International of
    Guangdong, China; and Ourway Image of Guangdong, China – leaving four
    aftermarketers involved in ongoing litigation with HP.

    On 1
    February, the ITC released its response to respondent Zhuhai Gree’s
    motion for termination of investigation based on an entry of consent
    order. Under the terms of the consent order, Zhuhai Gree stipulates that
    “it will not directly or indirectly import into the United States, sell
    for importation into the United States, or sell within the United
    States after importation of any ink jet ink supplies or components
    thereof that infringe any of the asserted claims,” while the company
    further states that the signing of the consent order does not constitute
    an admission by Zhuhai Gree that an unfair act has been committed.

    addition, HP also indicated that it has “settled or is close to
    reaching a settlement agreement with” the other three respondents. In
    fact, Lyra Research has learned that HP has now settled patent
    infringement claims brought against ink cartridge reseller Comptree Inc,
    putting an end to disputes between the companies in Federal court and
    the US ITC.

    New aftermarket Lawsuit
    On 5 March, HP took
    action again, simultaneously filing a complaint with the ITC and the US
    District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging six of
    its product patents were infringed: US patent numbers 6,234,598;
    6,309,053; 6,398,347; 6,412,917; 6,481,817; and 6,402,279.

    claim stated: “The infringing ink cartridges at issue in this action
    include cartridges that are marketed as compatible with at least the HP
    27/28 and HP 56/57 ink cartridges. In addition to those products, HP
    manufactures and sells additional models that share the same or similar
    structure but differ in other attributes, such as ink volume, ink
    colour, and compatibility with certain printing platforms. These models
    include the HP 21/22, HP 54, and HP 58/59 cartridges.”

    In the
    complaint, HP alleges that MicroJet Technology of Taiwan; Mipo
    Technology Limited of Hong Kong; Mipo Science & Technology of China;
    Mextec d/b/a Mipo America of Miami, Florida; SinoTime Technologies; All
    Colors of Miami, Florida; and PTC Holdings Limited of Hong Kong
    unlawfully import into the United States, sell for importation, and/or
    sell within the United States after importation certain ink jet ink
    cartridges with infringing print heads and components.

    The OEM
    claims that MicroJet manufactured and sold the allegedly infringing ink
    cartridges under its own brand name and as generic and/or made-to-order
    products and print heads to other companies, including Mipo and PTC.
    Mipo and PTC then resold the accused products in markets, including the
    US. Sinotime is accused of selling the allegedly infringing products
    under the name ‘All Colors’ on Amazon and advertising the products as
    “remanufactured” cartridges.”Defendants and/or other unidentified
    parties were either directly or indirectly involved in the events
    surrounding the converted print heads based on, inter alia, the
    manufacturing, packaging, distribution, marketing, and sale of the
    products containing HP converted print heads,” states HP in its filing.

    describing the process by which it purchased the infringing products
    for testing. HP subsequently claims: “Results from internal analysis of
    ‘Mipo’ products indicated they were composed of a genuine HP print head
    and a non-HP cartridge body that was made to resemble [or in some cases,
    closely resemble] a genuine HP cartridge body.”

    According to
    HP’s internal tracking system, the HP print heads are from truck
    shipments that were hijacked in March and September 2007, after the firm
    implemented increased security measures to stop the unlawful removal of
    print heads from a contract manufacturer assembly plant located in

    HP decries the defendants’ patent infringement from a
    technical and marketing perspective.
    According to the OEM:
    “Defendants acted with an unlawful purpose and deliberate intent as
    demonstrated, for example, by the fact that the cloned ink cartridge
    body was designed to look exactly like a genuine HP ink cartridge body
    in order to pass off the ‘Mipo’ labelled product as a genuine,
    remanufactured HP ink cartridge.”

    Moreover, “As a result of
    Defendants behaviour, Defendants have reverse passed off (or reverse
    palmed off) HP’s print heads as its own, thereby misleading the public
    and deceiving the public as to the true source of their products.”

    result of this behaviour, “entitles HP to an award of its damages,
    Defendants ill-gotten profits, treble damages, costs, and reasonable
    attorneys’ fees,” claims HP. “In addition, HP seeks a return of genuine
    HP print heads that were unlawfully taken by Defendants.”

    this lawsuit is still in its infancy, the defendants have already come
    out in defence of their business practices. In prepared remarks,
    MicroJet maintained: “All products manufactured by us are created with
    our own research and development efforts,” while Mipo claimed, “HP’s
    accusation is groundless. Mipo is a professional remanufacturer of
    printer cartridges. We never converted any cartridges.”

    the outcome
    While Lyra is loath to predict how the courts will rule
    in any lawsuit, given the swift and favourable outcome of HP’s previous
    complaints filed with the ITC and US District Court, we would be
    surprised if this lawsuit did not follow a similar course.

    to Lyra’s Cartridge Demand Advisory Service, the HP 21, 22, 56, 57, and
    02 are among the top 20 ink cartridge products in the world, and the HP
    56 holds the all-time record for number of units sold among printer
    cartridges of any make or technology.”At its height in 2005, I’d
    estimate that about 120 million original HP 56 cartridges were sold
    around the world,” asserts Andy Lippman, Senior Analyst with Lyra’s Hard
    Copy Supplies Advisory Service.

    HP’s lawsuits also have broader
    implications, as Lippman explains that the firm is attacking a
    widespread problem in the aftermarket – the tendency of some Chinese
    companies to reverse engineer and clone integrated ink cartridges
    without regard for patents.

    The problem, he says, is that these
    infringing cartridges cause extreme pricing pressure because the new
    Chinese compatibles can be produced and sold for less than it costs to
    source an original cartridge core.

    Lippman tells Lyra Research
    that the new compatibles are often shown at aftermarket trade shows,
    particularly those in China, and that he spotted a few in Shanghai at
    ReChina Asia Expo 2009. Moreover, the presence of these illegal
    cartridges pollute the empties supply stream, as they are mixed in with
    valuable OEM empties, and it is difficult and expensive for
    remanufacturers to avoid them.As a result, maintains Lippman: “The
    remanufacturing industry often speaks out against this practice and is
    likely on the side of HP.”He notes that the HP-Pelikan lawsuit from 2007
    involved new integrated cartridges that Pelikan was advertising as
    remanufactured, and says, “It’s plausible that Pelikan had no knowledge
    that they were selling new integrated cartridges.”At the time of the HP
    lawsuit, Lyra Research speculated that Pelikan may have unknowingly
    obtained illegitimate HP empties and cautioned that aftermarket
    companies should be “carefully scrutinising all empties” as the risk was
    high that the current supply of empties had already been tainted by
    infringing products.

    Lyra know nothing about
    empties , they are kissing the oem’s asses ,because the oem’s are the
    only ones that buy there overpriced expensive reports .(the asian
    remanufactures don’t waste there money on such useless reports ).