THE FUTURE DIRECTION IS CLEAR AND PRINT-RITE LEAD THE WAY
When the remanufacturing industry started in the early 1990’s, it took what was a monopoly OEM supply market and offered end users an alternative remanufactured legitimate choice, at a lower price. In the day, recycling was big news and companies were being led by governments to be more environmental friendly and more environmentally conscious. Recycling for reuse is good, still is, but let’s be clear, no one buys a recycled, remanufactured toner cartridge because it saves the planet. They buy because of the money they save and they come back for more because the quality was good. Bad quality equals lost customers, period.
The decade of the 90’s was for recycling, that was when we started to change our habits and separate our trash and be more conscious about the landfill and dumping unwanted items that could be put to reuse. The WEEE directive in Europe is a good example of legislation that prompts environment conscious actions and gets everyone involved, but, no one will pay more for a once – used product, it needs to be cheaper than the new virgin product, otherwise it does not satisfy our inner – brain debate, over whether it is a good deal or a bad deal.
As performance quality improved the remanufacturing industry gained market share and OEM’s started losing that coveted monopoly position. The so-called “pirates” of the aftermarket took 25-30 percent of the monochrome market and maybe 10-12 percent of the color market at its peak. Inkjet cartridge market-share also grew and prompted many legal challenges over the years. We have witnessed all sorts of attacks on our eco-friendly industry, designed to warn end-users of all the dangers of buying non OEM supplies. Threats to void printer warranties if after-market supplies are used resulted in most OEM’s retracting those type of statements after their legal counsel gave stern advice. Frivolous legal actions pushed a few unstable remanufacturers out, OEM performance propaganda rubbished the remanufactured cartridge performance time and time again. Lawsuits focused on ink formulations and some OEMs were very successful hitting back hard to reclaim lost market-share and limit aftermarket inkjet product availability through innovation and patents.
Things started to change when Chips were introduced in 2000. Initial simple chip designs became ever more complex chip designs using encryption technologies that would rival that used by the military. All to protect a cartridge and the margin dollars for the OEM. Underestimating the ingenuity and talent of the aftermarket is still a mistake that many litigious OEMs make. The infamous T650 Lexmark chip was a beast, but finally available to the industry after a three-year struggle, albeit at a very high price. OEM lawsuits claiming patent infringements became part of the way business was done. Even after-market players sued each other defending their own patents and proprietary technologies. The ITC section 337 complaints process became the way in which OEM’s try to slow down or stop imports from overseas, and was a successful approach coupled with civil actions against infringing companies.
Still today, lawsuits are filed on a regular basis against those who can be challenged by OEM’s. It has been a long road. It’s been tough, and it’s been expensive, even though the industry hid behind the “Right to repair Doctrine”. The risk of being caught in litigation has always been present, it’s not new. Some companies are successful in doing it the right way by investing in patent lawyers and patent engineers and design engineers, their own patented technology and cutting edge manufacturing facilities, to avoid any litigation fight and in the process protects its customers and its own business. Others, maybe 90% of those that export from China, disregard the Intellectual Property rights of patentees and make a copycat product that infringes and plague the market with extremely low prices in both North America and Europe. These companies will get caught, will face consequences and will, in the end, disappear from the market because customers will not tolerate un-necessary risk of litigation and put their own business on the line when they do not need to. Print-Rite is now, after a over 20-year investment program the clear market leader for new innovative IP safe (if we have to call it as a “New Build”, it is a brand new “New Build” of INNOVATIVE IP safe cartridge instead of the “Copycat”) products and remanufactured products.
Now in 2018, the end user has not two but three legitimate choices. 1. New virgin OEM original, at a high price, 2.Remanufactured at a lower than OEM price and now, 3. A new built INNOVATIVE compatible product that is an alternative new cartridge product, meticulously newly designed to not infringe OEM patents that is cheaper to a remanufacturer or a reseller, dealer or distributor than a remanufactured product price. Consistently higher quality than a variable quality remanufactured cartridge, since every component part is matched for optimum quality performance and is new, not one that has been used or hopefully selected with fingers crossed that it will run for life without creating a print defect during the cartridge cycle.
A whole range of new built INNOVATIVE cartridges compatible with multi OEM products that are now available from Print-Rite, the oldest and most respected Chinese based and global reaching company in the industry. All these products from Print-Rite are IP safe, higher consistent quality and yet cheaper than building a reman cartridge. That, of course, does not mean every new built cartridge coming out of China is the same, in the same way that not every remanufactured cartridge sold has new drum. Buyer beware, no matter where you buy your products, is a good maxim.
Why did this industry push to offer a third choice? The near monopolistic control of empty cartridges by one company, ensured that its competitors were forced to buy empties at inflated prices that rendered them uncompetitive, a strategic strategy which provided a real market advantage for many years. But it backfired badly when Impression Products of West Virginia, USA took Lexmark all the way to the Supreme Court of the USA and won. This victory changed the way in which patent law and the exhaustion of patents was interpreted. Now “empties” can be imported from anywhere into the USA and used as a good candidate for remanufacturing, but the cost of collection and distribution is still high. Secondly, the empty cartridge supply starvation and hiked price, forced Chinese manufacturers to look for ways to produce a new built IP safe cartridge product. It has been a huge investment program for over 20 years for Print-Rite, using in-house and outside IP lawyer teams, patent engineers and design engineers who are meticulous and diligent to the demanding task. During this period Print-Rite has amassed 2700 patents which puts Print-Rite clearly, way ahead of any competitor in this industry.
Some have argued that new built cartridge or “clones” as some people mistakenly refer to them are “very risky and should be avoided at all cost”. These statements are untrue when it comes to Print-Rite compatible products, and are used in a general way because it suits those who are trying to scare customers away from looking at the 3rd legitimate option. These statements come from those who simply have run out of choice of what to say because they see volume of remanufactured cartridges being lost as informed resellers switch to legitimate new built cartridges. They, do not have the new built product or any capability to manufacturer anything but a remanufactured cartridge. They are faced with the stark reality that they cannot compete against a legitimate new built INNOVATIVE compatible cartridge which has consistently higher performance and is lower cost because it does not have a high priced empty as part of its bill of materials.
Fact is, that IF a new built compatible cartridge IS not infringing any OEM patent or third party patentee patent, it is, of course a genuine legitimate product that can be sold as an alternative to an OEM original. At Print-Rite we have already convinced many companies in both USA and Europe that our compatible cartridges are legitimate and non-infringing. We are happy to prove that point to any interested potential customer. The second consideration is quality, not just a lab queen remanufactured product but a consistent production line sample that removes the issue of variability that remanufactured cartridges have always had by nature of what they are. Price is lower than a remanufactured cost, because the inflated “controlled” price of the empty cartridge has been removed.
IP safe, consistently high quality at a lower than remanufactured cost, that is why some panic exists in the marketplace. That is why the “everything from China is a clone, brigade” try their utmost to scaremonger. Those who pedal remanufactured products understand that new built IP safe cheaper products of high quality is the only way to go for survival in what is a highly competitive world. Scaremongering, does not change the choice that resellers and alike have to make, and will inevitably make, since they create more profit.
Profit at the end of the day is not a dirty word, and every company in the world focuses on doing what is in its best interest, for “profit”. New built, IP safe cartridges are simply more profitable than remanufactured cartridges for a reseller, that is, the catalyst that drives a full understanding of IP and the cartridge performance analysis. Once done the business decision comes easy enough.
Every OEM started off making a one – time use only toner cartridge, our industry forced the OEM collection of used cartridges so they could stop as many as they could from entering the remanufacturing industry. In a way their actions also fostered the era of new built IP safe compatibles. In time maybe we will see collection programs for the new built cartridges from the environmentally conscious organizations that make and resell new built cartridge products.
A new paradigm shift has arrived, it places those who have prospered and who has controlled the remanufacturing industry for decades, now at a significant disadvantage. The remanufacturer in our industry is on an inevitable journey moving from remanufacturing towards reselling new built IP safe products because they are better and more profitable. The question to answer is, “how long will it take you to accept the change and chose to be more profitable.”
Risk and reward, speculate to accumulate are all part of doing business every day. Mitigate the risk and maximize the return is logical and the decision to embrace new built IP safe products is both the most logical and most rewarding decision to make. Trust but verify, as Ronald Reagan said, Let the industry leader, Print-Rite help you make the best decision for your business.
Steve Weedon – Head of Strategic Development of UTec (a key company of Print-Rite also the master global distributor of Print-Rite products).