Misuse Trademark Law To Stop Competition And You May Owe Lost Sales

from the oops dept

Back in April we wrote about how label printer company Dymo kept forcing eBay auctions offline from a seller promoting "Dymo-compatible" labels. Dymo claimed that saying Dymo-compatible was a violation of trademark law -- which seems like a complete misuse of trademark law. It's factually accurate to say that the labels were Dymo-compatible -- and the only reason to have eBay take them down is not to protect Dymo's intellectual property, but to stop the competition. Apparently Dymo has finally recognized this. Greg Beck from Public Citizen, who was handling the lawsuit on behalf of the seller writes in to let us know that: "Dymo has backed down, reimbursed our client for lost sales, and promised not to do it again. Note for companies that wish to abuse intellectual property law in the future: you may have to pay for the damage you cause."

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Karen Dudnikov, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 3:56pm

    re: good for Greg Beck

    this is just the tip of the iceberg of companies attempting to control the secondary market on the internet by falsely claiming copyright or trademark infringement

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    anonymous coward, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 4:20pm

    expect to see a huge flood of printer cartridge resellers.

    either you make money selling cartridges or you make money by suing the printer mfgs when they try to stop you from doing business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    William Williams, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 4:32pm


    That would be great maybe the price of ink will finally come down if there is some competition. I know those things should only cost 5 or 6 bucks but I always end up paying 30

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Mr. No NO, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 5:14pm

    Cost of ink by William WIlliams

    The only problem with them bringing the price of ink down is that the actual printer prices would sky rocket. Ink and toner is how these companies make money. They often only make 10-15% margins on the printers, but the ink and toner, like you stated, is more like 200-300% margins.

    Sure, we could have $5 ink (instead of $30) but we could also have $300 inkjet printers (instead of $50 ones).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    inky, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 5:17pm

    Re: Re:

    William is almost right. HP pays a little over a penny per milliliter for its ink. That's $0.10 - $0.15 per cartridge for the ink. Add about $2 for the cartridge an a few cents for packaging. Everything over $3 is advertising and PROFIT.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    BillDivX, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 5:41pm


    I never print anything unless it's critical to have it on paper. Probably has something to do with the fact that whenever I go buy cartridges, I stare in wonder at HP's $50 cartridge price.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Adam, Jul 17th, 2006 @ 6:03pm

    Re: Cost of ink by William WIlliams

    Even so,
    The long-term savings, if you keep your printer around for any real amount of time, would WAY outshine the extra cost of the original printer

    so, say a 50$ printer goes to 300$
    and the 30$ ink cartridge drops to 5.
    after your tenth cartridge, you'll have saved as much as you spent extra on the printer, every time after that you're saving 25bucks PER!

    to equal out the difference... you'd have to take the difference in cartridge price, times the life span, IN NUMBER OF CARTRIDGES, and add it to the original sticker...
    so, if they wanted the same profits a printer that had an avg lifespan of 5 years, at 5 (2.5 of black and color) cartridges a year, is a 25 cartridge lifespan....
    25 cartridges times 25 dollar difference per equals 675 dollars of difference in profit to make up..

    would YOU pay 725 for cheap lexmark?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 5:37am

    I gave up...

    on printing years ago. I was buying $30 carts, use them 5-10 times then they would dry out before I used them again.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Andrew N., Jul 18th, 2006 @ 6:00am

    The way I do it...

    Is to just buy a new printer every time. I can get a new $50 printer with a $20 mail in rebate (which are stupid, but if you do them, it works) and spend as much as a cartrige. Then, you just sell the old printer on eBay.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Karen, Jul 18th, 2006 @ 6:04am

    re: missing the point

    I think you've gotten off topic.

    This is about a company that decided someone couldn't use their name to sell a compatible product.

    It was a company deciding to control the secondary market. The guy didn't sue to make money, he sued to be able to continue his LEGAL business.

    The guy wasn't selling ink cartridges. He was selling labels that fit a certain printer.

    Could you see Dymo going after Xerox if Xerox said "our paper fits in Dymo, HP and Epson printers"

    No. But this guy was selling his labels on eBay and Dymo decided that since eBay makes it so easy to shut down a listing they would go after him there.

    They KNEW they didn't have the right to do so, they probably only did it because they never expected to be sued.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Jul 18th, 2006 @ 9:26am

    Re: re: missing the point

    "The guy wasn't selling ink cartridges. He was selling labels that fit a certain printer."

    No, these guys are right on target. Here's why:

    "Hi. Would you like to buy these GT-Direct Printer Cartridges? They are compatible with HP model XYZ printers."

    Exact same thing. The only difference would be if I stole HP's patented methods for producing the carts. And if I backwards engineered my carts to fit their ports, I'm not even "copying" their carts. I'll just make the tops round or something and BAM... different item.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    firemeg, Jul 19th, 2006 @ 8:29am

    Doesn't Surprise Me...

    that eBay was pulling these auctions. Doesn't seem as if there was any copyright infringement going on. eBay's VERO program oversteps the boundaries all of the time when removing listings such as this.

    eBay is also a bit hypocritical, since it is still in the midst of lawsuits over intellectual property that eBay allegedly stole from at least two different companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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