Getting Rid of the “Clone”—Recycling Times White Paper

Getting Rid of the “Clone”—Recycling Times White Paper

Getting Rid of the “Clone”—Recycling Times White PaperGetting Rid of the “Clone”—the terminology inaccurately discredits and damages the imaging aftermarket

A deliberate strategy is being propagated that impacts many legitimate aftermarket companies. It is entirely wrong, unjust, damaging and discriminatory. It must be stopped. It centers on the use of the word clone.

This Recycling Times White Paper:

  • focuses on the legitimacy of all non-infringing aftermarket imaging products;
  • alerts the industry to the dangers in blindly accepting the narrow and unjust view that anything other than a remanufactured cartridge is wrong;
  • publishes the comments of global industry leaders who strongly disagree with the clone definition; and
  • urges all within the industry to correctly use the various cartridge definitions and to respect the intellectual property rights of others.



There is no legal definition of the word clone that allows its use in the digital printer consumables industry. The word was coined to define those living organisms that have been asexually reproduced from a parent or from ancestral stock. A clone is genetically identical to and an exact replica of the progenitor. Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned in 1996. Her clone was an exact replica, even down to the sheep’s DNA level.

If a printer consumable has its own unique workaround solution, is non-infringing and covered under a valid, registered patent of its own, then it cannot—by virtue of its not being an exact replica—be called a clone.

Also, if a company invests in its own inventions, patents and intellectual property workarounds to avoid infringement, it can legally offer to sell its products in the marketplace.

Finally, a patent-free product is defined as one that does not infringe any existing patent or patents.

Getting Rid of the “Clone”—Recycling Times White Paper

A Fuzzy Term

In the last three years, the term clone has been used colloquially as a “catch-all” name for compatible or new-built imaging products. It is a “fuzzy” word that covers anything that is not remanufactured. Using this word may be a case of ignorance on the part of some. Or, it could stem from ulterior motives by those seeking a market advantage by disparaging a competitor’s new-built product. This includes non-infringing, perfectly legitimate and legal cartridges or components.

Further, the word clone lumps together non-infringing with illegal, harmful, infringing and counterfeit products.  Clearly, it is inappropriate to use this vague and indistinct term in any context at all.

Accusations and Inaccuracies

Various trade events, component supply companies, and publications use the word clone in their communications with the wider industry. One leading publication, as a case in point, implies that all aftermarket products, other than remanufactured, are bad, illegal and/or should not be supported. It’s publisher states, “As to the difference between a clone and a patent-free new cartridge: who really cares?”1 In other words, ANYTHING other than a remanufactured cartridge is a clone and should be avoided. Ordinarily, the opinions of a magazine and it’s publisher should be of their own concern and would not be of any real interest to any other entity legitimately engaged in the imaging aftermarket. Consequently, the publication states it “only supports the remanufacturing industry.” This means any other legitimate aftermarket company is not welcome to advertise or report on its legal, new product developments in it pages.

In another case, a “judge and jury” position is taken with the publishing of an article headlined “Apex Makes Chips for Clones.”2 The article clearly accuses this aftermarket chip-maker (of whom there are many) of engaging in wrongful and/or illegal activity. In fact, Apex Microelectronics’ non-infringing cartridge chips have their own workaround solution, are of a different size and shape from the original OEM chip, and are available to remanufacturers and new-built cartridge producers alike. By virtue of its non-infringing chip design it cannot be deemed a clone that replicates the OEM product.

Accusations and inaccuracies directed at companies engaged in lawful enterprise are discriminatory. They not only damage legitimate companies that make non-infringing imaging products, but also the industry as a whole. The reputation of any company making replacement parts for any sector of the aftermarket can be destroyed by the use of emotive, inaccurate, denigrating terms such as clone. It sets a dangerous precedent this industry needs to recognize and combat.

Read the full white paper on:



Getting Rid of the “Clone”—Recycling Times White Paper Ed O’Connor, Chair of the Eclipse Group’s Litigation Department (USA)

This white paper is spot on. There is way too much loose language used in this industry and the misuse of the term clone is one of the prime examples. By any definition, a clone is an exact replica. So, in the cartridge business what exactly is a clone? Is it an exact copy of a cartridge? If so, and that cartridge is not patented, then there is no legal significance to the clone. Not all OEM cartridges are covered by patent claims. In a legal sense, I think of a clone as an exact copy of the preferred embodiment of a patent, provided the preferred embodiment is an exact description of a product actually made and sold by the patentee. Any variations from that exact product means we do not have a clone, whether or not we have an infringing product.

 Patrick Naude, Owner, CMYK Industries (South Africa)
I find the term “clone” to be unjust and biased. Its malicious intent is to disillusion the market and discredit any companies that are a threat to their decreasing market share. Ask yourself why they adopting this “creative-slander” type marketing? It’s inevitable that trends have changed and it becomes more competitive in the market place so how do you protect against these obvious market share losses? Start a rumour and put the fear of God into the market. So what do we do? We need to listen to our customers’ needs and educate them giving them the choices: Remanufactured, new built /compatibles and OEMs. They all have a place in the market. Our industry common goal should be to give a great product at a saving but always say no to counterfeit!

Getting Rid of the “Clone”—Recycling Times White Paper Sunny Sun, Director at RechargeAsia (USA)
To support healthy growth in the aftermarket industry, I cherish Recycling Times’ effort to demystify the term of clone as opposed to new-built, and its opposition to a general conclusion that “new-built” is identical to “clone”. It is a wrong and irresponsible assumption that is often made. What’s more, legitimate, non-infringing, patent-free new-built products should be encouraged, as they bring diversity to the market.

Find out more comments on our coming magazine.
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