Ebay re­moves cheap car­tridges af­ter Ep­son pres­sure

Computer Active (UK) - - News -

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”.

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