Fargo seeks injunction against firm for copy cat ribbon, files lawsuit
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - Card printer manufacturer Fargo Electronics has filed a lawsuit against one of its product distributors claiming that a printer ribbon recently introduced by IRIS Companies infringed on a Fargo patent.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Minnesota in late February and alleges that a product sold by IRIS Companies called the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fargo Equivalent 81733G RibbonÃ¢â‚¬Â infringes on two Fargo patents for its dye sublimation ribbons. Specifically, Fargo said the ribbon in question contains a patented core pin technology, a mechanism that senses if the correct ribbon is installed in the printer for the print job the end-user is asking it to perform
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The ribbons and the printers are very tightly correlated. ThereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot of work done to make sure the ribbons print properly and theÃ‚Â colors match up,Ã¢â‚¬Â saidÃ‚Â Jeff Upin, general counsel andÃ‚Â vice president of business development. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These sec-ondaryÃ‚Â or cloneÃ‚Â ribbons haveÃ‚Â pro-pertiesÃ‚Â where theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not as effective or they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read as well.Ã¢â‚¬Â
As part of its lawsuit, Fargo has asked that IRIS Companies to stop selling the ribbon. The two companies have also ended a distribution relationship that spanned more than six years. At one time, IRIS Companies was considered one of FargoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest authorized distributors.
Ned Gehris, secretary, treasurer and an owner of IRIS Companies in Fleetwood, Pa., said his company received an opinion from a patent attorney before bringing the printer ribbon to market.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re certainly not out to do anything illegal,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Gehris.
IRIS Companies has since hired a second attorney to look at its ribbon and FargoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s for another opinion on whether it infringes on the patent.
The company began offering the generic, after-market ribbon at the beginning of the year in an effort to save customers money, said Gehris.
Along with IRIS Companies, Fargo has recently filed lawsuits against two South Korean companies, KCP Systems and IntraKorea. Fargo is seeking an injunction barring the companies from manufacturing and selling ribbons that infringe on FargoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s patent.
Upin said itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unclear when the case will be resolved. As of press time a preliminary injunction hearing had yet to be set.
Gehris said if IRIS Companies is told by its second attorney that its product does infringe upon FargoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s patent the company will Ã¢â‚¬Å“move on.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But if weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not infringing, then we have to sit down with an attorney to make whole our name,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.