Desperate Times Give Way to Lies and Fake News
Nothing irritates me more than carefully prepared propaganda that is designed specifically to misinform and misrepresent industry information for the purpose of benefiting those who have their own agendas. It’s transparent of course to those “in-the-know” and potentially influential to those that are not, but seeking to learn.
There is a lot of nonsense written and said about our industry by those who try and prosper from the falsehoods they propagate.
Let’s take one claim that is repeated time and time again, as a blatant example. “Every cartridge coming out of China is a clone, and patent infringing.” Sound familiar?
Some media and some western remanufacturing companies attempt to influence every cartridge reseller, dealer or wholesaler that it is true. Why? Because they fear losing business to Chinese imported products and they use the “everything from China is a patent infringing clone” defence to fight it.
Such blanket statements are simply untrue. They are fake news. The truth about imaging products exported from China to the West does not help their cause, so it is hoped to scaremonger and create false impressions will urge customers to remain loyal and keep prices stable.
Let’s clear this off the table once and for all. To say every imaging cartridge imported from China is a clone and patent infringing is a lie. Some world-class companies within our industry have made huge investments to build unique patent portfolios and have successfully designed and produced alternative new-built imaging cartridges that are a legitimate workaround alternative to an OEM original product. They are not clones, nor are they patent infringing.
However many of these new-built cartridges have a winning edge that seriously worries the competition, and rightly so. By virtue, by not being remanufactured means they do not have a high empty cartridge cost in the bill of materials as does a remanufactured cartridge. They do possess a consistently high quality and a lower price point than remanufactured products and can also be “patent safe” in that they do not infringe the OEM patents.
Of course, not all compatible cartridges coming out of China are like this. It is probable that most Chinese companies attempting to export imaging cartridges into the US and European markets are infringing and are a “copycat” of the OEM. Such companies should be exposed and sued by the patent holder. Hopefully, they will be. But it does not give license to create a false impression that everything from China is bad.
The term “clone “is like a returning bad penny that you never seem to get rid of. The term should be reserved for a new-build cartridge that is an exact replica of the OEM—in all respects. It follows, therefore, that if a new-build cartridge is not an exact replica of the original OEM, it is not a clone.
An aftermarket toner is not a “clone” toner, as is often reported since many differences are evident in the formulations, which for the most part are “secret recipes” rather than patented formulations. Patents that exist in the toner area are more to do with how it is manufactured than the finished toner powder itself. When looking at toner powder, how can you tell if it was manufactured in a way that infringed someone’s patent?
Fake news is probably here to stay. When the facts don’t suit the argument, sell fake news. It’s like telling lies convincingly: some will be fooled some of the time, but not everyone will be fooled all the time.
There are now three choices and each is here to stay. 1. OEM genuine originals; 2. Remanufactured; and 3. New-build non-infringing compatibles. The pros and cons of each will win or lose customers. However, the facts will prevail, not the fake news.
Potentially, the cheaper, non-infringing New built compatible cartridges could see the Aftermarket double its market share within five years. That volume increase will come from the OEM’s share and from those mainstream remanufacturers who do not transition. Both the OEMs and remanufacturers are seriously worried and some with are desperately creating a false picture.
As Ronald Reagan said, “Trust but verify.”
Steve Weedon is an award-winning CEO who has held senior management positions at various OEMs as well as Katun Corp and SCC. He is the Chief Executive Officer of Print-Rite Europe Limited, Print-Rite Pelikan GmbH Germany and Print-Rite Pelikan SAS France.
He was the original founder of The Recycler Magazine and of trade shows in Europe. He also established Static Control’s Worldwide Subsidiaries and relocated to the US to become executive vice president. Weedon headed up the global Cartridge World network after it was acquired in 2016. He can be contacted on LinkedIn.
Weedon is a popular columnist in RT ImagingWorld Magazine and speaker at RT Summits and events. You can read his other blogs.