This Week in Imaging: Will Planet Green Lawsuit Upend Amazon’s ‘Remanufactured’ Cartridge Business?

Planet Green Cartridges’ headquarters in Chatsworth, California.

This week’s big news was a $500 million lawsuit filed by a U.S. cartridge remanufacturer, Planet Green Cartridges, against giant ecommerce site Amazon.

The lawsuit, which could turn out to be landmark case, alleges that Amazon has enabled hundreds of companies, mostly Chinese, to sell new-built printer ink cartridges on its ecommerce site that are falsely advertsed as remanuactured or recycled. Planet Green purchased and researched various ink cartridges sold as remanufactured and demonstrated that they are in fact just simply new-built cartridges and were never originally made by printer OEMs. The company says it tried to persuade Amazon to remove the cartridges but was unsuccessful.

It also says that Amazon’s practice of allowing these falsely labeled cartridges to be sold on its ecommerce site has resulted in the destruction of the U.S. cartridge-remanufacturing industry, as customers opt for the lower-priced falsely labeled cartridges. It cites various laws that forbid false advertising, including the Lantham Act.

For its part, Amazon cites the U.S. Common Decency Act passed in 1996, specifically Section 230. The much-discussed Section 230 protects online Internet providers, social media platforms, etc. from illegal or defamatory content made by its users, such as an online letter-to-the-editor or post on Facebook.

Amazon appears to be contending that Section 230 also protects falsely advertised products, not just user-generated content. So far, this doesn’t seem to be holding up in courts. For instance, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission successfully brought a lawsuit against Amazon for publishing fraudulent user reviews of a “miracle” weight loss product. These bogus reviews could certainly be considered a form of advertising for a product in the same way that stating a cartridge is remanufactured – that is, it consists of an OEM core – is also advertising.

In our opinion, it seems Amazon is on flimsy ground here and Planet Green might just succeed. That would likely mean that Amazon would have to remove hundreds of falsely labeled cartridges – both ink and toner – from its website, opening up the door for legitimate remanufactured cartridges.

Meanwhile, Planet Green has set up a Go Fund Me to help finance legal help for what will surely be a very contentious legal fight.

This Week in Imaging

Legal News

U.S. Cartridge Remanufacturer Sues Amazon for Hundreds of Thousands, Alleging False Advertising

Judge Says Lawsuit Alleging HP All-in-One Scanning Defect Can Proceed

Financial News

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Document Scanners

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3D Printing

Xerox Sells 3D-Printer Business

Market Research and Reports

Shipments of Printing-Writing Plummet 25 Percent Year-over-Year