Will Recent Patents Create Havoc for Remanufacturers?

The Recycler magazine has two current articles concerning patents generated from Canon and Brother. Both articles mentioned the patents could affect remanufacturers. The one from Canon spoke about a “seal between two components” while the article about Brother’s patent had to do with “steps” required to manufacture an ink cartridge. On the surface, both of these granted patents could affect remans and cause them to reconsider their options. Our viewpoint is both of these patents would have difficulty standing up in the court of law.

In Canon’s situation, if a user had a problem with a toner cartridge seal and was not able to print, the user has the right to replace the offending part. The user could simply state s/he wanted to fix their printer to print. The court may agree with the defendant. This is a tricky field and it is hard to say with certainty whether a jury would side on the OEM’s side or the remanufacturer’s side.

In the case of the Brother patent, a remanufacturer could state it had studied the cartridge enough to come up with different steps than what the Brother patent had stated. The remanufacturer could say it got the same result using a different set of steps. Once again, the court may side with the reman.

The main effect of patents is to slow the remanufacturers from gaining revenue from intellectual property. If court cases were brought with these patents as the basis of evidence, Canon and Brother may be disappointed with the results.

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