While we seem to be on the Canon theme this week, it was reported in the press on Tuesday that Canon has won a lawsuit in Japan against a company refilling their ink cartridges. The company, called Recycle Assist, was recycling used Canon cartridges by cleaning and refilling them. Canon alleges that Recycle Assist was infringing their patent as a special leak-preventing structure of the Canon cartridge was being re-used. The Intellectual Property court agreed with Canon even though a a lower court had ruled that what Recycle Assist was doing was technically ‘repair’ and was allowed.

The judge ordered all the refilled cartridges be destroyed and that no more may be imported. Recycle Assist plans to appeal the decision.

It appears that this judgement only affects Canon against one company in one country, however an ultimate win by Canon may mean that no company anywhere in the world will be able to refill Canon cartridges for sale to consumers. Of course, if Canon wins the other manufacturers won’t be far behind with their litigation too. This will have major repurcussions not just for neighborhood refillers but companies like Cartridge World who are expanding worldwide on the premise that refilling ink cartridges is legal. While I am not a great fan of refilling due to quality issues, I think if people want to get their cartridges refilled they should be allowed to do so.

I doubt though that this judgement will affect home users who do their own refilling, although Canon may take action against those selling inks and giving instructions to customers on how to do it. Those companies may be stopped just as companies instructing people how to download illegal mp3’s have been stopped. Let’s wait and see. If you have a comment you would like to add, please do so!

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