Epson has announced a new lawsuit against another 24 companies which manufacture Epson compatible ink cartridges. Epson alleges copyright infringement of their cartridge design. Epson has for several years been adamant that they are not against aftermarket cartridges for their printers per se, only aftermarket cartridges which infringe copyright. The newest batch of companies targeted by Epson includes companies that manufacture in China, Germany, Korea and Mexico, as well as some U.S. companies that import cartridges.

Manufacturers include Butterfly Print Image, Ink Lab, Mipo International, Nine Star Image, Zhuhai Gree Magneto-Electric, Tully Imaging Supplies, Wellink Trading Co., Ribbon Tree (Macao), Artech GmbH, Ink Tec (Korea) and Master Ink Co.

Importers include some very well known companies – Glory South Software, Nectron International, Mipo America, Nine Star Technology, Town Sky Inc., MMC Consumables,, Ribbon Tree (USA) Apex, Inc Tec (America), Dataproducts USA, Rhinotek and Acujet.

If Epson is successful these companies may be liable for large damages payouts to Epson, as well as lost sales in the millions of dollars. It is unlikely that end users will be involved in any sort of litigation for using these cartridges, however consumers that use these cartridges and are happy with them will need to use different brands which don’t infringe copyright.

As can be seen from the list of importers and manufacturers, if Epson is successful they will effectively remove some of the best performing compatibles from the market, making the remaining non-infringing aftermarket cartridges the only substitute to genuine. Of course the non-infringing designs are vastly inferior to the genuine Epson ink cartridges , making the genuine product much more attractive.

Whether we see Epson taking action against Australian importers of non-genuine cartridges remains to be seen.

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