SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Hewlett Packard claims Chinese and Taiwanese competitors stole patented printer cartridge components from HP's factory in Singapore and copied them to sell made-to-order counterfeit HP inkjet cartridges on Amazon.com. "Trucks carrying HP parts were hijacked while en route from the manufacturing facility in Singapore to the assembly plant in Malaysia ... in direct response to the heightened security measures that had been implemented in HP production facilities," HP says.
After ripping off the technology, Hewlett Packard says, Microjet Technology (of Taiwan) Mipo Technology (of Hong Kong and mainland China), and their U.S. affiliates, including SinoTime Technologies (of Florida) sold more than 300,000 of the inkjet cartridges in the United States. The defendants have the capability to make nearly 10 million counterfeit cartridges a year in Asia, Hewlett Packard says.
The 28-page federal filing is the latest in a long line of complaints that China is making up its technology gap with the United States through industrial espionage, theft, and wholesale patent infringement.
MicroJet "sells generic and/or made-to-order infringing ink cartridges to other companies, including defendants Mipo and PTC [PTC Holdings Ltd., of Hong Kong]," and sells them itself as well, Hewlett Packard says. HP claims the defendants violated six patents after stealing the HP components.
Hewlett Packard says it discovered the scheme after seeing color ink cartridges for sale on Amazon.com and Craigslist, advertised as "HP compatible."
HP bought some of the cartridges from Amazon.com, then used HP's internal tracking database to cross-reference ID numbers on components, and found that the cartridges had "a genuine HP printhead and a non-HP cartridge body that closely resembled a genuine HP cartridge body."
And it found that the printheads came from HP lots from Malaysia that had never been assembled by HP - "i.e., were identified as production gaps." All of these stolen items "were packaged in a 'Mipo' labeled box and were individually wrapped in a clear plastic interior packaging that is clearly consistent with the standard packaging for products manufactured by defendant Microjet," according to the complaint.
HP demands an injunction and damages for patent infringement, unfair competition and conversion. It is represented by Ruffin Cordell with Fish and Richardson of Washington, D.C.
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