Appleyard Lees

Imaging and Printing

Imaging and printing devices draw on diverse areas of technology for their functionality. Optical systems are key elements in imaging devices, and techniques and strategies for providing and dissipating heat are crucial in some printing techniques. Mechanical systems for ensuring correct delivery and transport of printing media through the devices are also important. Another consideration relates to user-replaced or consumable items, which can provide valuable income streams for products in this technology sector.

We have a great depth of experience in drafting and prosecuting European and UK patents for imaging- and printing-related technologies, as well as managing diverse portfolios around the world. We also have a wealth of experience in advising on infringement in this field.

A particular area of expertise is in obtaining granted claims covering the consumable parts of printers, for example, toner cartridges and developing units. These claims are particularly valuable in protecting revenue from cheaper and/or inferior after-market replacements.

Market conditions dictate that consumer scanning and printing devices are sold at low prices, based on the opportunity to profit at the stage of replacement of toner cartridges etc. This feature of the market puts the focus on obtaining good protection for those replacement parts. Our advice to clients covers the full range of protection to include patents, utility models and registered designs (and trade marks as well) to provide a thicket of protection that frustrates the activities of third parties.

Recent case law has shown that it is not always clear at the outset what might be the best strategy to protect a product. We have achieved success with registered designs, as well as with the more traditional patent protection.