On Tuesday, an online ink toner and cartridge outlet filed suit against HP Inc. alleging that the defendant improperly threatened it. The District of New Jersey complaint seeks a judgment declaring that HP’s trademark and trade dress rights are not infringed by the plaintiff, Frei Enterprises Inc. which does business as Ink Genie.
The lawsuit explained that Ink Genie “legally operates within a market niche that serves as a valuable, efficient segment of the economy.” In particular, it sources new and authentic printer ink products from surplus suppliers and “other downstream market participants.”
Ink Genie then offers its products to customers on its website for “the lowest possible price.” HP and its authorized distributors, by contrast, try to maintain price control over these products and consequently leverage the highest profit margins possible, the filing alleged. As a result, the entities purportedly try to eradicate competition in order to maintain their profits.
As such, the complaint alleged, HP has utilized “misplaced and clumsy threats and intimidation tactics” against Ink Genie. On several occasions HP reportedly contacted the plaintiff warning of possible legal action, though in one instance, HP engaged the wrong entity.
The complaint pointed to two exemplary correspondence, one a May 2021 cease-and-desist letter requesting that Ink Genie remove all HP products from its website and stop selling them. The other was a July 2021 letter, which reportedly demanded the same.
Ink Genie claimed that it “legally procures, advertises, markets, promotes, offers for sale, and sells HP branded products that are 100% genuine and authentic,” and as a result, the plaintiff claimed it has done nothing wrong. The company seeks a declaration of non-infringement from the court.
The plaintiff is represented by Stern & Schurin LLP.