General Exclusion Order Issued

On June 28, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) issued the expected general exclusion order (GEO) protecting Canon’s patents. The GEO now prohibits the unlicensed importation into the United States of certain HP and Canon toner cartridges and components, which infringe Canon’s twisted drum gear coupling patents. The USITC has sent out a letter of instruction to inform the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agencies.

Recycling Times Media has kept the imaging industry updated on this issue, which has been brewing since January 2012. The global aftermarket printer cartridge industry has a vested interest in the U.S. multi-billion dollar market.

Back in January, 2012, Japanese-based Canon Inc., and its two American subsidiaries Canon U.S.A., Inc. and Canon Virginia, Inc., filed complaints against 34 third-party supplies vendors with the USITC. Canon alleged those companies were infringing its patents and requested the USITC to conduct an investigation under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The patents involved are US No. 5,903,803, and 6,128,454, commonly known as the twisted drum gear coupling patents.

According to the letter, the products named in the GEO can still be imported into the United States under bond until the order is approved following a Presidential review—which can be no longer than 60 days. The commission says “for the covered products, the amount of the bond during the period of Presidential review is 100 percent of the entered value of the subject imports.” Industry analysts predict that very few non-USA firms will have the ability to post bonds for their products and will not continue to import during the review period. The USITC’s order will remain in effect until March 26, 2016, the expiration date of the patents in question.

Actionable Intelligence reports, “In the short term, we do not expect significant shortages of non-OEM Canon and HP toner cartridges. Offshore third-party supplies vendors have had months to prepare for the GEO, and we understand that many U.S. warehouses are now stuffed to capacity with cartridges that might not have made it past the watchful eyes of U.S. Customs officers after a GEO was issued”.

Some aftermarket manufacturers have used Recycling Times Media to inform the market they have had “patent safe” solutions to the Canon twisted drum gear coupling long before the GEO was released last week. Static Control, a giant manufacturer and supplier of printer cartridge components, released a video featuring founder and CEO Ed Swartz just weeks after Canon filed its 2012 complaint saying they filed patents on their own gear designs back in 2007 and 2011. Print-Rite and Ninestar both sent out press releases last week to reassure their customers they can legally “supply products continuously to the United States market”.

Others have told Recycling Times Media they predict the larger U.S.-based remanufacturers, such as Clover Technologies and Micro Solutions Enterprises (MSE), will increase their production capacities to fill the void left by banned foreign products. It’s also possible that more overseas companies will begin manufacturing in the United States to avoid problems in the future with customs.

Recycling Times is well positioned to continue delivering updates, views and reports on this issue through its various media channels:  website, inTouch TV news, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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