Epson Cuts Ink Cartridges Importers Off The US

In February, 2006, Epson filed a complaint against 24 US, Korean, German, and Chinese companies that were importing and selling ink cartridges violating Epson’s patents.

In March, 2007, The U.S. International Trade Commission issued the Initial Determination that found all 11 patents belonging to Seiko Epson Corporation to be valid and all ink cartridges at issue to violate one or more of the patents.

The other day, the ITC issued what they call a Final Determination to support, with slight moderations that don’t change the outcome, the Initial Determination. The ITC also prohibited import of all guilty cartridges into the US, as well as sale and distribution of those cartridges in the U.S. by certain domestic companies.

The Final Determination is now to be review by the President within 60 days, to decide if there are any reasons to disapprove the Final Determination. During the review period, importers may continue to import infringing cartridges into the US only if they post a bond of $13.60 per cartridge.

If the President does not disapprove the Final Determination, then all importers must cease importing infringing products entirely. I wonder what this “does not disapprove” is. Does it mean that EXPRESSED agreement of the President is NOT required or something, and if the Determination simply lies on the President table (or wherever such documents are kept) for 60 days, it will automatically come into effect?

Either way, it doesn’t look good for both ink cartridge importers and ink cartridge buyers – no profit for the ones, no cheap inks for the others.

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