October 25, 2017

eBay must stop Epson’s patent abuse

Open Rights Group is challenging eBay to stop allowing Epson and other companies from removing eBay listings by merely alleging patent infringement.


Epson are engaging in a campaign to stop resellers from stocking certain Epson-compatible ink cartridges, alleging patent infringements. No manufacturer has been taken to court, and no court judgment exists to date.

eBay allow Epson and other trusted manufacturers to remove listings under their VeRO programme, but appear to only allow patent violations as a reason for a trusted takedown in Europe.

Open Rights Group Policy Officer Slavka Bielikova said:

“Ebay have previously stated that removing listings on the grounds of patent infringement should only be done with a court order. Yet in this case, they have allowed Epson to remove eBay listings on their say-so.

“We are also very worried about the patent claim itself. Companies should not be able to use patents to prevent components and compatible products from being connected to their proprietary hardware. If this was allowed it could damage the manufacture of compatible car parts and other very important third party products.”

Adrian Meakin owner of Ink Squid and one of the companies affected said: 

“Ebay should not be removing listings without a court order. They are allowing Epson to target compatible cartridge resellers and damage small businesses like mine without any real evidence that anything wrong has been done.

“My customers and my business deserve better treatment from eBay. Just because Epson are a big company doesn’t mean they are entitled to bully competitors with eBay’s help.”

eBay stated in relation to US patent claims:

“eBay has a policy to quickly remove listings when a NOCI [Notice of Claimed Infringement] provides a court order, but eBay rarely removes listings based on mere allegations of infringement. eBay has two reasons for this policy. First, eBay believes that removing listings based on allegations of infringement would be unfair to buyers and the accused sellers. Such a policy, in eBay’s view, would give too much power to unscrupulous patent holders. The second reason eBay has adopted its policy is because it lacks the expertise to construe the patent infringement claims submitted to it and cannot assess the claims when it never possess the products.”

https://arstechnica.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/ebay.blazer.opinion.pdf

For more information contact: press@openrightsgroup.org

More information

Epson are alleging that certain compatible ink cartridges infringe their patents GB2433473 and amendment GB2465293. The alleged infringement concerns the alignment of chip contacts on their cartridges. So far, we know Epson have issued takedowns against compatible cartridges T16 XL; T18 XL; T24 XL; T26 XL; T27 XL; T29 XL; T33 XL plus T0715 XL; T0797 XL; T0807 XL.

https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2017/epson-delete-ebay-listings-citing-patent-claims