back to article ITC judge recommends banning toner imports that infringe Canon's IP

A bunch of toner manufacturers and sellers have infringed on Japanese electronics outfit Canon's patents, according to an initial finding from the US International Trade Commission (ITC), with a judge recommending imports of their products be banned. The notice [PDF] from an administrative law judge this week said an Initial …

  1. Mishak Silver badge

    New law needed?

    To prohibit price gouging on consumables.

    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: New law needed?

      That would sink most ink producers (I don't want to call them printer manufacturers)

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: New law needed?

        That would sink most ink producers

        You say that like it's a bad thing...

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    And all done without mentioning the word "monopoly".

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Nobody else makes laser printers?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nobody else makes laser printers?

        Which manufacturer has the moral highground

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          Re: Nobody else makes laser printers?

          I'm not sure what the moral high ground is, exactly. When I last needed a laser printer I checked OEM toner prices for a few candidates and chose a Brother, for which £35 per cartridge does not seem excessive. I've recently bought knock-off versions at about £20, but if they weren't available then the real ones would be fine. Unless of course Brother doubled the price because of a lack of competition, but I have no reason to expect that.

          The printer doesn't care which type I put in.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Epic names

    The sadness of (ab)using the courts to keep a protection racket going aside, I must admit I'm in awe of the names of some of those Chinese companies. It's almost as if they were deliberately aiming to overflow form input fields :).

    1. the spectacularly refined chap Silver badge

      Re: Epic names

      I have a good friend called Hefeierlandianzishangwuyouxiangongsi. We shoot a few games of pool in the pub after work.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Epic names

        >I have a good friend called Hefeierlandianzishangwuyouxiangongsi. We shoot a few games of pool in the pub after work.

        Wait, is that the Hefeierlandianzishangwuyouxiangongsi who worked at the Lidl in Potters Bar between 2008 and 2015? No way! Damn, that brings back memories. Great person. We were always laughing because they'd forever be getting texts and calls for another Hefeierlandianzishangwuyouxiangongsi who was an actuary in Kirkcaldy, or - on one occasion - the Hefeierlandianzishangwuyouxiangongsi who dairy farmed in Tillamook, Oregon.

        ISTR that in the end our Hefeierlandianzishangwuyouxiangongsi just changed his name to John Smith, because it was more unique and less confusing.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Epic names

      Had a friend at uni with an 88 character name... Bank forms were particularly challenging (He ended up using just his first name and the second half of his surname - bringing it down to a manageable thirteen characters).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Epic names

        Was going through customs in a foreign country with a co-worker on the way to an assignment - he got pulled aside for an hour because the full length of his very long 4 names printed on his passport borked their computer. I can't imagine he is unique, so it's possible he was just unlucky to be testing their new system for them.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Epic names

          4 names? Is your friend Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson?

      2. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Epic names

        I had the reverse.

        I had a friend who only had one name.

        Most systems can't handle this and if she repeated her name (so it filled in both fields), that itself caused other issues (banking for starters).

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Epic names

          I went to college with a guy from Indonesia who only had one name. However, to get a visa for the U.S. to study, he had to supply a 2nd name, so he picked the ltter 'M' as it was in the middle of the english alphabet.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Epic names

      Some films on your favourite streaming service are partially subsidised by Chinese companies. You can tell not just because of the Chinese characters, but the tiny translation underneath that seems to say weird things like "Jeffery's pet motion picture product brought to this glorious world by flying llamas".

      Really, if you see a credit that's Chinese with a little translation, hit pause and see if you can make out what it says. Some are amusing to the point of "is the translator taking the piss?".

      1. BobTheIntern
        Joke

        Re: Epic names

        >>> Really, if you see a credit that's Chinese with a little translation, hit pause and see if you can make out what it says. Some are amusing to the point of "is the translator taking the piss?"

        A Møøse once bit my sister... No realli!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Epic names

          For the new kids who have no idea what us oldies are on about, go watch "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". It's 47 years old now but still funny as heck, and will significantly expand your vocabulary with things like 'the speed of an unladen swallow".

          Consider it a vital component of your PFY education - IMHO watching it should be mandatory for any IT education.

          That's it, you're on your own now.

          1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

            Re: Epic names

            African or European?

      2. Sven Coenye
        Happy

        Re: Epic names

        If that is Jeff Minter, then that statement makes perfect sense.

    4. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Epic names

      >The sadness of (ab)using the courts to keep a protection racket going

      Funnily enough this article appeared in my news feed today:

      https://www.forbes.com/sites/roslynlayton/2021/07/20/the-international-trade-commission-should-work-as-intended-not-as-practiced/

      Yes, I know it is from last July, however, what I didn't know until I googled "Forbes ITC patent", was just how scathing Forbes are about patent holders abusing the ITC.

  4. Roland6 Silver badge

    Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

    I was wondering what patents exactly were being disputed, so did a google, discovered that at issue are some specific toner cartridges and then came across this article which if correct suggest Canon are playing the system and that the patent system is truly broken.

    https://info.eandssolutions.com/generic-printer-cartridges-and-the-legal-challenges

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

      To quote the article:

      Without the downstream profits on ink and toner cartridges, there would be no incentive to invest in new hardware so innovation in new office printing devices would be significantly cut back.

      That would seem to be an assertion that requires some proof. As far as I can tell most of the "innovation" in printers seems to be the same as the "innovation" in pod-based coffee machines: finding new and patentable ways to make the devices incompatible.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

        Yeah, apart from the increase in resolution, which is an opto-mechanical thing, what new features are there that printers have given us since the first Canon LBP? As far as I can tell, it;s primarily little more than tweaking.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

          >what new features are there that printers have given us since the first Canon LBP?

          Good question, but the focus here is: what new features are there in toner cartridges that are covered by active patents.

          Personally, given the first laserjet printer was invented by Xerox in 1969 and the first desktop/mass market laserjet was introduced by HP in 1984, I would have thought there were few real toner cartridge invention patents that Canon could be holding.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

            IIRC, the first HP LasterJet used a Canon engine so HP would have been licencing the relevant patents at that time, but as you say, it's long time ago now.

      2. John D'oh!

        Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

        Or to paraphrase, "What have the Canons done for us?"

      3. Updraft102

        Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

        There was one paragraph right before the one you cited:

        The profits on the initial hardware sale are generally very modest but the profits on the supplies that follow are usually very high. If the manufacturer loses market share on the supplies, then its business model will be compromised.

        Without the downstream profits on ink and toner cartridges, there would be no incentive to invest in new hardware so innovation in new office printing devices would be significantly cut back.

        There's another obvious solution. Change the business model in the first cited paragraph back to the way it used to be, where the profit was made primarily on the printer, not the supplies. They cite the business model as if it is somehow unchangeable and that anything that breaks it will have [insert parade of horribles here].

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

      @Roland6 thanks for the link

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Interesting Article - Not Fact Checked

      "and that the patent system is truly broken."

      What d'you mean "and"?

      The patent system is buggered beyond redemption.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this about patenting a un-inventive physical interface - or something else

    I wonder if this shouldn't be about the legitimacy of the patent - whether physical interfaces can be patented. If these other companies are really copying an innovative invention that would be a different issue.

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Is this about patenting a un-inventive physical interface - or something else

      It has just occurred to me that this might be something to do with a Chinese patent Canon obtained.

      China doesn't respect US patents, so perhaps Canon has gained a Chinese patent for something that already had a US patent (current or expired). It is now using that Chinese patent against Chinese manufacturers, specifically abusing using the US ITC to bar the import of products from these manufacturers...

      Looks like an opportunity for ElReg to do a little more digging...

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    ChengDuXiangChangNanShiYouSheBeiYouXianGongSi of SiChuanSheng, China

    Snappy name

    May need some work

    - PR Dept

  7. Tempest
    FAIL

    Count Me Out

    If Canon is going to play silly games like HP or Lenovo, my company will simply stop buying Canon.

    We like Brother!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Count Me Out

      Don't forget there are others such as Oki, Kyocera, Konica Minolta, Ricoh to name a few that are readily available in the UK.

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