What is Canon complaining about and how does an ITC investigation work?

Book 6 - Generic Cartridges_ The Legal Landscape

Detractors label generic cartridges as patent infringing "clones" but there's much more to the story than that.

The original equipment manufacturers provide us with cheap printers but the total cost of ownership is a different story once four-years of replacement cartridges are accounted for.

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The International Trade Commission is perfectly qualified to adjudicate the complaint but, who will prevail and can the litigation-cycle be broken?

Dongle-Gear Background

The dongle-gear is one of hundred's of components in a Canon/Hewlett Packard laser printer cartridge, but this is the third round of ITC litigation on this one component:

  • '829 investigation 2012
  • '918 investigation 2014
  • '1106 investigation 2018
Canon prevailed in 2012 and 2014 obtaining General Exclusion Orders preventing certain designs from importation to the U.S. However, the respondents redesigned their products, just as they are now doing in the '1106 matter.

Discrediting the Clone label

The litigation targets manufacturers, distributors, and resellers of new-build cartridges. However, while the OEM filed the complaint, media outlets sponsored by the remanufacturers were quick to jump on the bandwagon.

  • By definition, the cartridges are not clones
  • However, they may still infringe patents
  • This will be determined by the investigation
New build generic toner cartridges cost less to make than remanufactured cartridges and have no supply chain constraints. This means they represent a threat to the remanufacturing business model.

Investigation Timeline

The investigation will be completed within eighteen-months of commencement but will the outcome be any different to the previous ones? 

  • Markman hearing August 31, 2018
  • Bench trial January 31, 2019
  • ITC Final Determination July 29, 2019
Inside six-months of the complaint being filed the respondents already have redesigns in the marketplace, irrespective of the final determination of the ITC investigation.

Is there a place for generic ink & toner cartridges in a resellers business?

e-Book includes:


Green Check Mark  The patent owner has a right to sue

Green Check Mark  A patent is a government-granted monopoly


Green Check Mark  The aftermarket has a right to compete

Green Check Mark  But, does it do enough to avoid OEM patents? 


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