Clone Cartridges Sold in Russia May Violate OEM Patents

Two original printer manufacturers (OEMs), have advised Recycling Times Magazine that a report on the market in Russia, published last month, is potentially misleading.

Our story from our Russian correspondent mentioned the sale of “clones” are permitted in Russia because the OEMs do not hold cartridge patents there. “Clones” are cartridges which are newly made, look and work exactly the same as the OEM product, but are typically poorer in quality and certainly infringe the patents of the OEMs.

Hewlett Packard and Lexmark separately contacted Recycling Times to say they do hold patents in Russia on many of their cartridges, and “clones” are potentially infringing those patents. Recycling Times is waiting to hear from other OEMs on their position as it relates to the Russian market.

Matthew Barkley, HP’s IP & Brand Protection Program Manager for
Printers & Supplies told Recycling Times, “HP has a number of patents granted in Russia that cover many of our most popular products, patents of the same nature and caliber as what HP has been granted and has enforced in other countries.”

Andrew Gardner, Worldwide Brand Protection Manager for Lexmark International told Recycling Times, “Lexmark does have issued patents and patents pending for toner cartridges in Russia. It would be greatly appreciated if you can help clear up any misunderstanding.”

Barkley went on to say that the statements in the Russian report  reflects a patent environment that is rapidly changing.  . In years past, OEMs may not have sought patent protection in markets like Russia. OEMs began to recognize the importance of growth markets such as Russia, and patent grants to OEMs have rapidly increased.  However, as Barkley pointed out, when it comes to patents, “what is true yesterday may not be true today—patents get granted, and thus things change.”

The manufacturers of components for cartridges, and those involved in remanufacturing, manufacturing and the distribution of printer consumables are all at risk of infringing patents, unless they keep up to date with the latest patents.  Recycling Times is launching a patent information service at the RT Imaging Summit in Las Vegas on May 29 and 30. This new service will equip remanufacturers with information they need to know and ask of their suppliers, so they can avoid the risk of OEM lawsuits.

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