Epson Files Ink-Cartridge Patent-Infringement Lawsuits Against Amazon Sellers, as it Seeks to Deter Internet Resellers

Epson reported last week that Epson America, Epson Portland, and Seiko Epson filed three patent-infringement complaints on December 14th in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon, against HT Tech and HT Imaging; InkJet2U LLC and Worf Corporation; and Shoppers Smart, Houses Investing and Houses Investing of Florida, alleging that the companies infringed on Epson ink-cartridge patents. The Epson patents are U.S. Patent 6,502,917 and U.S. Patent 8,794,749.

Espon states that these two patents were already ruled as “valid and enforceable” in two actions Epson filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), resulting in general exclusion orders that barred the importation of all newly built and remanufactured ink cartridges that infringe on the claims.

Epson says its lawsuits filed against these merchants selling on the Amazon Marketplace supplement earlier enforcement efforts by Epson to protect its trademarks and patents, and ensure that legitimate resellers can compete fairly for sales of printer supplies for Epson printers. The Epson lawsuits allege “extensive sales of patent infringing cartridges and seek permanent injunctions against further infringements and monetary damages.”

“We are encouraged that enforcement programs have already achieved a high degree of intellectual property compliance and fair competition in traditional retail channels,” said Jilana Miller, Epson’s associate general counsel. “As more consumers and Epson authorized resellers move to internet commerce, our goal is to provide the same level of confidence in the printer supplies for Epson printers purchased from internet marketplaces as they have in supplies purchased elsewhere.”

Epson states that it has “a long history of vigorous legal action to protect the company, consumers and legitimate resellers from unfair competition encompassing a broad range of efforts to reach infringers throughout the distribution and sales channels:”

  • Two ITC actions that resulted in the “well-publicized” ‘565 and ‘946 General Exclusion Orders that prohibit all imports into the United States of a wide range of infringing cartridges for Epson consumer inkjet printers, business inkjet printers, and wide-format professional printers. Epson says that it and other printer OEMs have worked very closely with U.S. Customs to achieve extensive enforcement of General Exclusion Orders, resulting in numerous and frequent seizures of infringing shipments over the past two years.
  • U.S. District Court lawsuits addressing specific infringers with “a renewed focus on Internet marketplace resellers.” Epson recently filed two other U.S. District Court lawsuits against Amazon and eBay merchants. In September 2016, Epson filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against InkSystem LLC and related companies for alleged counterfeit sales through eBay and Amazon, in addition to its own Web sites. Epson says the InkSystem case has already resulted in seizures with U.S. Marshalls of thousands of counterfeit Epson-branded cartridges. In November 2016, Epson filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Nano Business and Technology, an eBay and Amazon reseller that had previously settled patent-infringement claims with Epson.
  • Frequent enforcement of intellectual property infringements and trademark misuse through the brand protection programs administered by Amazon and eBay.
  • Notice programs to encourage fair competition by informing resellers of infringing printer supplies of Epson’s intellectual property rights and the procedures for accurately and fairly listing printer supplies for marketplace sales.

“We intend to deter Internet resellers that continue to infringe Epson’s patents and misuse Epson trademarks, so the large majority of legitimate resellers can compete fairly,” explained Miller. “We will continue to leverage the cooperation we have received through the enforcement programs administered by marketplace owners like eBay and Amazon, while taking the legal actions necessary to protect Epson and the legitimate printer supply industry from this type of unfair competition.”

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