Canon Loses Key ‘Dongle Gear’ Toner-Cartridge Patent-Infringement Lawsuit in Germany

In good news for German makers of third-party toner cartridges, two German manufacturers of third-party toner cartridges recently won an appeal and costs in a key patent-infringement lawsuit filed against them by Canon Inc. of Tokyo, Japan, that was litigated in the Federal Court of Justice in Germany. The case involved parts – called “dongle gear” – used in toner cartridges said to be compatible with various HP laser printers.

The German printer-cartridge makers wta Carsten Weser GmbH and KMP PrintTechnik AG are said to have achieved “a pioneering victory” in the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, Germany, according to another German printer-cartridge maker, SuperPatronen.

In May 2014, Canon Inc. filed patent-infringement lawsuits, applying for an injunction to stop wta Carsten and KMP from selling the rebuilt cartridges. The court granted Canon the injunctions, but wta Carsten and KMP appealed the decision.

The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe overturning of the lower court’s decision in favor of wta Carsten and KMP can’t be appealed by Canon.

Canon had been seeking to enforce its Europe Patent 2 087 407, which covers the coupling piece that is attached to a toner drum and used to connect the printer’s drive unit.

During the recycling process, wta and KMP say that they replace the coupling piece (and the accompanying gear wheel) with appropriate new parts from suppliers.

The following widely distributed toner cartridges used by HP laser printers were the subject of the lawsuit:

  • HP 05A/CE505A
  • HP 05X/CE505X
  • HP 80X/CF280X
  • HP 55A/CE255A
  • HP 55X/CE255X
  • Canon Cartridge 720
  • Canon C-EXV40

 Along with wta and KMP, various other third-party toner-cartridge makers were affected by the action, including Armor, Artech, Pelikan, Zephyr SAS, Aster, X-Com Shop Ltd., and OOO Softrade.

According to wta and KMP, “despite their defeats in lower courts, the firms wta and KMP were brought before the highest court in Germany and emerged victorious with a judgement that can no longer be disputed.”

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