Court case tightens company’s grip on its ink cartridges

A Japanese printer manufacturer has won a key victory after going to court over its claim that those recycling its ink cartridges were breaching its patent rights.

In a test case for Tokyo Canon Inc argued that Recycle Assist, a company refilling empty cartridges and selling them at a price which undercut the ‘virgin’ products, was profiting from the printer company’s intellectual property.

Canon pointed out it had invested huge sums into the research and development of its printers and cartridges and now recycling businesses were reaping the rewards of that expenditure.

The judge in the case told the court it was not his intention to ban recycling but that there had been a clear breach of patent in this particular case.

Back in Britain Vivienne Burton, a spokeswoman for World Land Trust, one of the many charities which count on cartridge recycling partnerships for a slice of its income, told edie she thought it was a shame Canon took this hardline approach.

She said that while cartridge recycling was only a minor part of the charity’s funding strategy there were others who relied upon it as an income stream and could potentially raise a lot more money if Canon relaxed its policy.

“As a conservation charity we are more concerned about the effect on the environment than anything else,” she said.

“If Canon aren’t prepared to do let others refill them they should be encouraged to do it themselves.

“As far as charities are concerned it is very disappointing and it’s a pity that Canon doesn’t appear to be looking more closely at its own environmental responsibilities.

“As a major company they should be looking at more ways they can recycle and reuse their products.”

By Sam Bond

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