Judge Blocks Kodak in Collins Ink Lawsuit

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Law360 reports that on March 10th, an Ohio federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Eastman Kodak in an antitrust suit brought by rival Collins Inkjet, which has accused Kodak of illegally hindering competition for Versamark printer ink.

U.S. District Judge Michael R. Barrett barred Kodak from charging customers more for refurbished print heads if they bought their ink from Collins instead of directly from Kodak.

Collins is the only company other than Kodak to sell ink for Kodak Versamark inkjet production-printing systems.

Background

In September 2013, Collins sued Kodak, alleging that Kodak was illegally trying to stifle competition for the market for ink used with Kodak Versamark inkjet production-printing systems.

Collins had previously manufactured inks for Kodak’s Versamark systems. Kodak then sold Collins’ ink under the Kodak brand name.

After Collins tried to end its ink-supply agreement with Kodak, Kodak sued Collins in 2011. Collins said it was worried about Kodak’s financial solvency (Kodak later filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection), stating it might be left with unpaid orders. Kodak said Collins was just trying to steal Kodak customers.

U.S. District Court Judge David G. Larimer ultimately ruled that Collins prematurely ended the contract, and ordered it to supply Kodak with ink. Kodak then filed for Chapter 11 a weeks later, leaving Collins with $1.9 million in unpaid invoices.

Collins’ contract with Kodak ended in May 2013, with Collins stating it would no longer would supply Kodak with ink, and that it was offering Collins-brand inks directly to customers.

Collins then filed suit in September 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, alleging that Kodak is trying to push it out of the Versamark ink business by telling Versamark users that getting their print heads refurbished will cost more if they used non-Kodak-made ink. Collins also claimed that Kodak also “threatened certain customers with slow delivery or no refurbished print heads if the customer continues to use Collins ink.”

Collins argues that tying the purchase of Kodak Versamark print heads to Kodak’s ink is a violation of the federal Sherman Antitrust Act.

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