by Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
Fewer Epson-compatible ink cartridges from third-party manufacturers
will be available, because the printer vendor has convinced a number
of manufacturers and importers to stop producing and marketing them.
Last February, Epson filed a complaint with the U.S. International
Trade Commission against 24 companies that manufacture, import, or
distribute after-market ink cartridges for sale in the U.S. The
complaint sought to ban the companies from importing or selling the
cartridges in the U.S. At the same time Epson filed a lawsuit in the
U.S. District Court in Portland against the same companies seeking
damages for the alleged intellectual property infringement.
Of the 24 companies, five have agreed to settle with Epson at both the
ITC and district court. A further three companies have agreed with the
ITC to stop importing cartridges, but will have their cases heard at the
district court. Another eight companies have had default judgments filed
against them at the ITC because they failed to respond to the complaint
within the time allowed, said Epson. Trials against the remaining
companies at the ITC will begin in January.
The settlements and judgments are the latest in a line of legal
victories by Epson against third-party ink-cartridge makers,
distributors and vendors.
In June, a court in Taiwan barred a local manufacturer of continuous
ink supply systems from producing models for Epson printers after
receiving a petition from the Japanese company. A month earlier Epson
succeeded in getting four German online retailers of printer ink
cartridges to stop selling a number of third-party ink cartridges
designed for use in Epson printers.
The company won a similar legal action against a Japanese manufacturer
in June 2005.
Printer makers like Epson typically rely on a business model that sees
them selling printers at little or no profit, then making money down
the line on ink cartridges and other consumable items. Epson sells its
own replacement cartridges and licenses a number of companies to make
and sell Epson-compatible products. The third-party vendors targeted
by Epson have no relationship with the printer-maker and so it doesn't
directly gain from any of their business.
Copyright 2006 PC World Communications, Inc.
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