French Environmental Group Files Planned Obsolescence Lawsuit Against Brother, Canon, Epson, HP

France’s Le Figaro Economie reports that a French environmental association, Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (Stop Planned Obsolescence), has filed a lawsuit against four major printer manufacturers, Brother International, Canon Inc., Seiko Epson, and HP Inc., charging that the companies deliberately engineered their printers in order to reduce their useful lifespan so that customers will purchase replacements.

The association filed the lawsuit in France’s Court of the Republic of Nanterre, in accordance with new legislation that was introduced by France to ensure that household appliances are more durable and long-lasting. It’s said to be is the first case to arise as a result of the 2015 legislation, the Energy Transition Act of 2015.

The association asserts that “elements of printers, such as the ink-absorbing pad” are wrongly indicated as being at the end of their life, and that the “the blocking of prints on the pretext that the cartridges ink would be empty while there is still ink left.” It asserts in particular that with Epson printers, the printers indicate that ink cartridges are empty when actually 20 percent of ink remains.

Laetitia Vasseur, founder of Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée, commented: “The association was alerted by numerous people scandalised by the short lifespan of printers and ink cartridges. We have reason to believe there is truly a problem.”

Under France’s Energy Transition Act of 2015, scheduled obsolescence is punishable with a sentence of two years imprisonment and a 300,000 euros fine. The amount of the fine may be as high as 5 percent of the average annual turnover of the offending manufacturer.

Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée states that it conducted an investigation that it carried out for several months and that it unveiled last week. According to Meunier Meunier, the association’s lawyer, “Millions of French owners of printers could be harmed.”

Canon France says it will cooperate with authorities, while a spokesperson for HP France said that it’s “continuously working to improve the durability and quality of its products.”

A spokesman for HP said: “The [HOP] complaint makes generalised statements about the printing industry and it is unclear what, if anything, is being alleged with respect to HP. “We can state unequivocally that HP is constantly working on improving the sustainability and quality of its products.”

A spokeswoman for Epson said: “We place the highest possible emphasis on quality and concern for the environment… We totally reject the assertion that our products are planned to fail after a certain period of time.”

Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée’s report (in French) alleging planned obsolescence of printers is available here. The association also has a Go Fund Me page – called Stop the Irreparable Printershere.

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