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Epson strikes blow in ink war

Another rival halts sales of compatible cartridges

Legal action by Seiko Epson has forced London-based Environmental Business Products (EBPL) to take its Epson-compatible printer ink cartridges off the market.

This is the second time this week that the Japanese firm has made another manufacturer take competing products off the shelves.

EBPL has stopped importing and supplying Epson-compatible printer cartridges as a result of an out-of-court settlement between the two companies.

Epson had brought proceedings against the London company in the UK High Court for infringement of a number of patents and registered designs owned by Epson.

EBPL and other companies like it offer ink cartridges or refills that can be used in Epson printers and are typically cheaper than those from Epson. For printer makers the sale of replacement ink is a major source of profit.

The developments couldn't immediately be confirmed by EBPL, which has operations in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Spain. However, a statement from Epson included a quote from EBPL’s managing director, saying sales of Epson-compatible cartridges had been stopped because the company wasn't confident its products would be found not to infringe on Epson's patents.

In addition to the halt in sales, EBPL will also have to pay legal costs and "a substantial payment" for damages, Epson said. The amounts involved were not disclosed.

Earlier this week Epson reached a settlement with Hong Kong-based Multi Union Trading as part of a patent infringement lawsuit brought in the US District Court for Oregon, in Portland. That will see 75 of Multi Union's cartridge models barred from being imported and sold in the US, according to Epson. The cartridges are sold under the Print-Rite brand and other names.

Epson is also pursuing a number of other companies, including Armor, a third-party cartridge maker in Nantes, France, which is being sued in the same Portland court as Multi Union.

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