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By | Tony Smith 27th February 2006 11:20

Epson sues inkjet cartridge importer Medea

Alleges patent infringement

Epson last week began legal proceedings against Dundee-based printer cartridge importer Medea International, claiming the company is violating its intellectual property. However, it's unclear which of the importer's products are actually alleged to infringe Epson patents.

Medea sells the inkjet cartridges under the Inkrite PhotoPLUS brand. In a statement issued last week, Epson said it maintains the cartridges' spongeless design - a feature touted on Medea's website as "brand new" and "patented", incidentally - is too close to its own Smart Valve Technology, which has also been patented, in the UK and elsewhere.

Epson's lawsuit alleges infringement of six UK and European designs and patents, Medea told Channel Register. MD Yusuf Okhai said the company believes the named products don't infringe Epson's intellectual property. He pledged Medea will defend itself against the allegations.

Medea also claimed the doucmentation it has received from Epson suggests the Japanese vendor's allegations relate not to the PhotoPLUS cartridges, after all, but to older Inkrite and InkXL products that Okhai said the company no longer sells. Okhai said he was awaiting clarification from Epson.

Okhai said Epson had made no attempt to discuss the matter with his company before filing its lawsuit.

Epson itself didn't detail what it wants the lawsuit to achieve. It claimed it was taking legal action against Medea to protect its technology and the "huge investment" it said it has made in printer R&D.

Epson's move is just the latest of a long line of similar actions brought by major printer vendors in a bid to prevent third-parties from selling printer cartridges compatible with their own - usually for a lot less than they do. Increasingly, the vendors have turned to allegations of patent infringement and other forms of intellectual property violation. ®

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