This Week in Imaging: How Will Hewlett-Packard Respond to Memjet Lawsuit?

goat standoff

Photo credit: Kathy Wirth

With less than three months to go before its split into two companies (HP Enterprise and HP Inc.), Hewlett-Packard this week was hit with a lawsuit from Memjet arguing that HP infringed upon eight Memjet patents related to page-wide color-inkjet printing that uses stationary inkjet print heads to deliver print speeds up to 60 ppm. In its complaint, Memjet says that HP’s using this patented Memjet technology in its X Series business printers, MFPs, and All-in-Ones, and plans to use it in future large-format and 3D printers.

While it’s impossible to predict how this lawsuit will pan out – and with appeals likely to be involved – HP, as we note in our story, may argue that it developed page-wide printing before Memjet applied for or received its patents, as the time-line of page-wide inkjet printing doesn’t offer up any easy answers. While Silverbrook Research and inventor Kia Silverbrook were developing page-wide inkjet printing – later marketed under the Memjet name – in Australia, across the ocean in Oregon, HP researchers were developing EdgeLine – now discontinued, but whose page-wide technology is now incorporated in HP products. HP introduced EdgeLine in 2007, while Memjet first demonstrated its page-wide printing also in 2007.

We can also add that when Wirth Consulting’s Terry Wirth visited Canon’s Tokyo research and development facility in Japan in the early 1990s, Canon demonstrated a Bubble-Jet inkjet printer with a page-width print head that printed at high speeds onto rolls of paper. So Canon also appears to have been working on page-wide inket-printing technology. (Although it never brought its own page-wide printing to market, but it does OEM from Memjet – see here.)

Another industry player has also been developing page-wide inkjet printing – Konica Minolta (see Konica Minolta’s illustration below). As with Memjet and HP inkjet print heads, Konica Minolta’s print heads are also stationary (unlike conventional inkjet print heads that move back and forth across the page), enabling faster print speeds. Konica Minolta OEMs these print heads and also uses them its industrial inkjet printers, including the Nassenger SP-1 inkjet textile printer, which this week the firm announced it’ll launch at the end of this year.

Overall, while both HP and Memjet technologies seem very similar, and appear to have been developed at approximately the same time, one key difference between the two is that while HP devices can use pigment inks, Memjet devices use only dye-based inks.

While we can’t predict how this will turn out, we’re sure HP is already marshalling an army of lawyers to fight it. Protecting page-wide will be key for the new HP Inc. that will emerge on November 1st, as HP Inc. will consist of HP’s personal computing and printing groups, the latter of which is relying on page-wide not just for business inkjet All-in-Ones and printers, and T-series web presses, but also for future large-format and 3D printers.

Feature Stories

  • Memjet Files Patent-Infringement Lawsuit Against HP, Claims HP Infringed on Page-Wide Printing Patents – Read more here.

Financial News

  • Profits Down for Konica Minolta’s First Quarter, but Business Technologies’ Revenue Up – Read more here.
  • Smaller Loss for Nuance’s Third Quarter, Revenue Up – Read more here.

Office-Imaging News

  • Sharp Business Systems Wins $8 Million Contract to Provide District of Columbia Schools with MFPs – Read more here.

Commercial- and Production-Printing News

  • New OKI C831TX Compact Textile Printer for Customizing, Decorating T-Shirts, Etc. – Read more here.
  • To Meet Increased Demand for Chemical-Free SONORA Plates, Kodak Expands Manufacturing Plant – Read more here.
  • Konica Minolta to Launch High-Speed Inkjet Textile Printer, the Nassenger SP-1, at End of 2015 – Read more here.

Other News

  • IDC: Printer/Copier-MFP Shipments Decline in Western Europe, but Revenue Up – Read more here.
  • HP Announces New Board of Directors for HP Inc. & HP Enterprise – Read more here.

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