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North America and Europe Clone Cartridge Market

Published: December 2013


InfoTrends defines clone cartridges as toner, OPC drum and inkjet cartridges that are made from all-new parts. They do not require an empty OEM cartridge in their production. All or nearly all of these cartridges are made in China though location of manufacturer is not part of the definition. For the purpose of this research simple bottle toner is outside of scope. Clone cartridges tend to be of very low manufacturing cost and so are frequently offered for sale to the end customer at prices significantly below not just OEM supplies but remanufactured cartridges as well. While remanufactured cartridges are often priced at 20-30% below OEM price, clones can be priced as low as 20-30% of OEM price making it very difficult for OEM and remanufactured cartridges to compete. While low price is problematic for OEMs and remanufacturers, the problem is compounded by the prevailing observation in the industry that clone cartridges also carry a high risk of patent infringement. OEMs are clearly concerned about patent infringement for obvious reasons, but so are remanufacturers who find themselves in a position unable to compete on price but frequently afraid to sell clones or use their empties for risk of lawsuit.

With IP enforcement in the U.S. relatively easier to accomplish than in Europe because of the historic need to conduct this at the country level in Europe, there is the perception that product diverted from the U.S. can frequently flood Europe. However, there is hope that a recent effort to unify EU patent courts will help with this situation.

Because resellers are the route to market for clones, there is a strong need to understand what the channels believe or do not believe about clones, their awareness across various risk factors on clones and what education is required in the channel to potentially reduce the negative impact of clones on the industry. The focus of this need appears to be the Internet channels, but this research will not ignore traditional channels.

When it comes to the Internet, but also not ignoring traditional channels, there appears to be an issue of product labeling and representation making it difficult to even identify clone products based on their descriptions with any amount of certainty. Sometimes price is the first best way to identify a product that may be a clone.

Project Objectives

  • Size and forecast the penetration of “clone” toner and ink cartridges
    • Penetration against major printer brands (Aftermarket split by clone vs. remanufactured/refill) 
    • North America & Europe
    • Pricing analysis
  • Investigate route to market for clone products
    • Geographic: Countries used as entry points
    • Channel: Traditional resellers vs. new “clone” channels, Internet
  • Investigate channel awareness and attitudes toward clone products
  • Describe the domestic remanufacturers interaction with clone products
  • Industry opinion on where the harm is
  • Sustainability issues; are there any end of life solutions for clones and which constituencies care?
  • Government/ISO issues
  • OEM Identification/verification issues, are they valued?

Analysis & Project Deliverables

  • Executive Summary that addresses key issues, findings, and overall recommendations
  • PowerPoint presentation for internal communication of the research results
  • Size and Forecast OEM, Remanufactured and Clone (Excel)
  • Custom Webinar to deliver findings
  • Optional: Customized whitepaper that is licensed to share with concerned constituencies (We anticipate that this white paper for one region will be approximately 5 pages in length excluding template, boilerplate, table of contents, and likely would contain a graphic. The actual contents will vary depending on the needs of the client and discussion with the authors at InfoTrends. Development of the whitepaper will begin upon the completion of the main deliverables.)
  • Optional: Additional samples can be added at the request of the subscriber for an extra cost.

Getting Started

For more information on the study, contact Scott Phinney at 781-616-2123 or e-mail


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