Feb 12, 2013
Trade shows as a whole are under great pressure to remain relevant so it was no great surprise that visitor numbers to this year’s Paperworld show in Frankfurt were down slightly on last year. However, unlike the recent spate of withdrawals from IPEX, there were a number of positive signs at Remanexpo this year, with brands such as Clover, Static Control and Pelikan present again, boosting the visibility of the large remanufacturers, and while there were still plenty of Chinese exhibitors, the show felt more balanced in favour of local brands than last year.
Clover returned to the show on the back of two recent acquisitions in the German market (K&U/Collecture and Dematec), which has given them a strong base on which to build a presence in Europe’s largest market.
Pelikan came to the show in the guise of a new brand, Prime Printing Technologies, which is targeted at direct customers who want high quality but don’t necessarily require the level of support usually associated with the Pelikan brand.
Ninestar continues to push its Pantum brand of printers, of which there are now 3 distinct models. In addition, Ninestar had what they claimed to be the first patent free new build cartridges for the HP950 series used in the latest Officejet Pro 8600 series.
PrintRite announced the availability of their new SmarTact range of new build cartridges for use in selected HP/Canon engines. The SmarTact range claims to offer a IP compliant new build cartridge, along with a much higher yield that the original OEM products.
These new products from Ninestar and PrintRite are part of the key issue that the industry continues to debate, that of “Clone” cartridges. At this year’s show there were a number of key trends that suggests that the momentum against such products is slowly but surely beginning to build.
- ETIRA continue to drive initiatives to combat clones. After publishing a guide to clones in the middle of last year, they have now revised their Code of Conduct to compel their membership not to being involved in the sale of “IP infringing clones”
- The larger Chinese companies are putting some effort, at least on the surface, into producing new build product that they claim is non-infringing.
- Far fewer clone products were on display at the show, suggesting that those engaged in selling them have become smarter about avoiding having any infringing products potentially seized. This was reflected in the lower than usual level of seizures at the show.
Whilst these are certainly positive signs, it is clear that the clone issue is not going away anytime soon, and it continues to divide opinion in the industry. ETIRA have taken a conciliatory approach in developing their new code of conduct, allowing for members to sell new build products if they believe them not to infringe upon the OEMs intellectual property. However some believe that this doesn’t go far enough and that remanufacturers should be just that and any selling of new build product dilutes the environmental credentials of the industry. In addition, accusations continue to fly back and forth across the show floor that some companies are engaged in selling clones even if the claim not to be and this clearly demonstrates how emotional an issue the whole debate has become.
Members of the remanufacturing industry continue to look to the OEMs to enforce their intellectual property rights and take the fight to clone manufacturers and resellers, and while there is acknowledgement that the likes of HP and Brother have been proactive in this manner, many in the industry are calling upon Canon to do more and utilise their extensive patent collection to come down hard against those selling clone cartridges. However, even if this were to happen it will be a lengthy process, so the issue of clones will remain forefront in the industry’s mind-set for the foreseeable future.
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