Ebay removes cheap cartridges after Epson pressure
Printer manufacturer Epson has been criticised for asking ebay to take down cartridges made by other manufacturers and sold by retailers.
These third-party cartridges are compatible with Epson’s printers and usually cheaper than those sold by the company. But it claims that they violate ebay’s VERO (Verified Rights Owner) Programme, which lets firms report items that infringe their intellectual property, such as trademarks.
Epson’s specific claim is about abuse of its patents, which applies only in the EU, leaving US customers still able to buy the cartridges.
Ebay agreed to remove the listings, angering Open Rights Group (ORG), which campaigns for privacy and free speech online. It said ebay previously stated that items wouldd be removed only after a courtourt order, but has removed printer cartridges solelyy on Epson’s “say-so”, without any legal basis.s.
ORG added that it was “concerning” that Epsonson acted against retailers selling the cartridges before contacting the manufacturersacturers who made them.
Many companies sellingling cartridges are small businesses that buy itemsems in bulk in order to sell them cheaply. Preventing this “would be extremely bad for consumers”, ORG said.
Adrian Meakin, owner of Ink Squid ( https://theink squid.com), which sells cartridges for Epson printers, accused the company of bullying competitors with ebay’s help. He said removing cartridges will “damage small businesses like mine without any real evidence that anything wrong has been done”.
Epson responded by saying it deals with cases in an “even-handed” way. The company’s PR Manager Leonie Toal added that while Epson welcomes “legitimate competition”, it objects to “companies and individuals that simply copy the technologies that we have developed and own”, claiming it is damaging to “loyal customers”.