Tips on Shipping Cartridges Into the U.S.A.

Importing cartridges covered by an ITC order into the US face many potential hurdles.

Merritt Blakeslee (pictured), US attorney from the Blakeslee Law firm in Washington DC. shared his legal expertise about GEOs as they relate to printing consumables, with almost 200 delegates at the RT imaging Summit in Zhuhai.

Blakeslee pointed out that there is a different legal analysis for each different Aftermarket cartridge. In his opinion, Reman cartridges can use patent exhaustion to defend, while the design-around can prove it’s technically non-infringing.

To use patent exhaustion as a defense for Remans, importers must prove the OEM cartridge was used first sold in the United States. It might not be easy for companies outside the U.S. as lots of documentation is needed, according to Blakeslee.

In addition, importers have to prove the remanufacturing process constitutes repair (permissible repair), and not reconstruction of the OEM cartridge. Blakeslee pointed out that almost any refurbishment constitutes “permissible reconstruction”.

Blakeslee also introduced the two parts of the US Customs and Board Protection Bureau (CBP) that administer ITC remedial orders. He recommended importers to contact CBP informally once goods are detained. “A CBP decision to exclude or to seize merchandise is a legal decision, and your effort to reverse that decision must be supported by a superior legal analysis,” he added.

However, remanufacturers can take actions to pre-clear their cartridges even before goods are detained. Blakeslee preferred the approach where the Branch Chief of CEE-Electronics is contacted informally, to obtain a formal letter ruling from the IPR Branch.

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