Brother New Zealand and Brother Japan are taking legal action against more than ten Cartridge World stores in New Zealand.
Brother has allegedly urged both stores and their franchise masters to correct their brand misidentification problems in the past. Brand misidentification refers to aftermarket products being sold that continue to have the OEM’s brands and markings visible on the cartridge. The non-removal of OEM brands and markings on cartridge casings could cause confusion with consumers who may wonder if the cartridge they are using is in fact OEM, or an Aftermarket product.
Apparently, Brother wrote earlier to Cartridge World masters complaining of a breach of its IP both in local advertising and on refilled products sold by some franchise stores.
Despite Cartridge World claiming it has strict procedures in place through its training materials and on its technical platform, Brother allegedly has proof that its compliance requests have been ignored and procedures may not have been followed in some places.
Brother has allegedly gathered evidence through the use of “mystery shoppers” who are unidentified persons who visit a store to purchase products that may be infringing the OEM’s intellectual property rights. It is likely Brother shopped all 39 stores in New Zealand.
Brother NZ and its parent Brother Japan have now initiated High Court legal action and served writs against both Cartridge World masters and “about 12 franchisees (stores) in New Zealand.” Brother is claiming a breach of its intellectual property rights.
RT Media has been advised franchisees have engaged their own lawyers to defend themselves against Brother.
RT Media has noticed that not only large organizations but also smaller ones, like individual Cartridge World stores in remote New Zealand, are now prone to legal attacks as the OEMs defend their intellectual property rights.
RT Media notes Brother cartridges have obvious brand markings (toner cartridge pictured left) on their casings.
Closer inspection of some of Brother’s cartridges also reveals a very small 15mm (half an inch) label that can only be read with the aid of a magnifying glass (from an ink cartridge pictured right). The small label states “This Unit Contains Brother brand ink” (sic). RT Media quizzed some remanufacturers who claimed they were unaware of these smaller markings. In any case, they have to be removed or covered to avoid brand misidentification.