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Publication numberUS20050029157 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/636,411
Publication dateFeb 10, 2005
Filing dateAug 7, 2003
Priority dateAug 7, 2003
Also published asEP1652144A1, WO2005017800A2
Publication number10636411, 636411, US 2005/0029157 A1, US 2005/029157 A1, US 20050029157 A1, US 20050029157A1, US 2005029157 A1, US 2005029157A1, US-A1-20050029157, US-A1-2005029157, US2005/0029157A1, US2005/029157A1, US20050029157 A1, US20050029157A1, US2005029157 A1, US2005029157A1
InventorsMarc Gibeley, Francis Linnane, Steve Doctor
Original AssigneeGibeley Marc M., Linnane Francis B., Doctor Steve D.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method of providing ink jet cartridge refill services
US 20050029157 A1
Abstract
A method for using a designated distribution infrastructure to collect reuseable ink-depleted cartridges, deliver the collected cartridges to a commercial refiller, and provide refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer includes receiving from a retail establishment, by a designated distribution infrastructure, an ink jet cartridge which has been depleted of ink. The received ink jet cartridge is transported and delivered, by the designated distribution infrastructure, to a commercial refiller. After filling, the processed ink jet cartridge is received, by the designated distribution infrastructure, from the commercial refiner and transported and delivered, by the designated distribution infrastructure, to the retail outlet for sale to consumers.
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Claims(6)
1. A method for using a designated distribution infrastructure to collect reuseable ink-depleted cartridges, deliver the collected cartridges to a commercial refiller, and provide refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer; said method comprising the steps of:
receiving from a retail establishment, by a designated distribution infrastructure, at least one ink jet cartridge which has been depleted of ink;
transporting and delivering, by said designated distribution infrastructure, the received at least one ink jet cartridge to a commercial refiller;
receiving, by said designated distribution infrastructure, at least one processed ink jet cartridge from the commercial refiller; and
transporting and delivering, by said designated distribution infrastructure, the at least one processed ink jet cartridge to the retail outlet for sale to consumers.
2. A method as set forth in claim 1 further comprising the step of transporting imaging supplies to the retail outlet along with the at least one processed ink jet cartridge.
3. A method as set forth in claim 2 wherein the imaging supplies includes photographic film.
4. A method as set forth in claim 2 wherein the imaging supplies includes ink jet paper.
5. A method as set forth in claim 2 wherein the imaging supplies includes photographic cameras.
6. A method for using a designated distribution infrastructure to collect reuseable ink-depleted cartridges, refill the collected cartridges, and provide refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer; said method comprising the steps of:
receiving from a retail establishment, by a designated distribution infrastructure, at least one ink jet cartridge which has been depleted of ink;
transporting and delivering, by said designated distribution infrastructure, the received at least one ink jet cartridge to a refill station;
preparing the at least one processed ink jet cartridge for reuse, including refilling the at least one processed ink jet cartridge; and
transporting and delivering, by said designated distribution infrastructure, the at least one processed ink jet cartridge to the retail outlet for sale to consumers.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to a method of providing ink jet cartridge refilling services and more specifically, a method of providing refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer, and for collecting reuseable ink-depleted cartridges and delivering the collected cartridges to a commercial refiner using a single designated distribution infrastructure.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Over the past few years, consumer use of desktop ink jet printers has increased. Many of these printers use replacable ink jet cartridges to provide an assortment of ink solutions. The cost of these ink jet cartridges is typically high and often far exceed the cost of the actual ink solution they are supplying. Therefore, consumers have increasingly sought to repair cartridges by refilling them once the initial ink supply is exhausted. Refill kits are commercially available for this purpose. However, such kits are somewhat difficult to use, and may be messy.

Commercial refiners have stepped into the market and have greatly enhanced the process by using large-scale techniques to refill reusable ink-depleted cartridges for resale. Such commercial refiners receive reusable ink-depleted cartridges from several sources, including directly from consumers, from collection sites, and from professional cartridge brokers. Refilled cartridges are resold to consumers either directly or through retail establishments. If the latter, the refiner supplies the retail establishment either directly, or more commonly through a network of distributors.

Such commercial refiners face a number of supply and distribution problems. The supply of reusable ink-depleted cartridges can be non-steady, increasing the effective cost of each ink-depleted cartridge. Loss of control over the cartridges during collection presents increased opportunities for the cartridges to be mis-handled, and increases the unit manufacturing cost of refills by increasing the amount of labor to inspect, and reject, unusable incoming ink-depleted cartridges. Refillers must supply a certain amount of expensive infrastructure if they are to deal directly with consumers, collection sites, brokers, and retail establishments.

Thus, there remains a need for a method for collecting and delivering reuseable ink-depleted cartridges to a commercial refiner and for providing refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer using a single designated distribution infrastructure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides an efficient method for collecting reuseable ink-depleted cartridges from a retail establishment that deals in ink jet cartridges and delivering the collected cartridges to a commercial refiner using the same single designated distribution channel as is used for providing refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer via the retail establishment. This inventive method provides a steady supply to the refiner of ink-depleted cartridges in numbers corresponding to the demand. A high percentage of ink-depleted cartridges are useable because of minimization of third-party handling. For the first time, commercial refiners have access to already-established distribution infrastructure to reach retailers and ultimately consumers.

According to a feature of the present invention, at least one ink jet cartridge depleted of ink is received by a designated distribution infrastructure and is transported and delivered by said designated distribution infrastructure to a commercial refiller. The designated distribution infrastructure receives an outer container having at least one processed ink jet cartridge therein from the commercial refiller; and transports the processed ink jet cartridge to the retail outlet for sale to consumers. The method is carried out by a distribution infrastructure which is a total service provider who follows ink jet cartridges through its entire distribution process between the retail outlet and the commercial refiller, both as a depleted cartridge to be refilled and as a processed cartridge for sale.

According to another feature of the present invention, a method for using a designated distribution infrastructure to collect reuseable ink-depleted cartridges, deliver the collected cartridges to a commercial refiller, and provide refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer includes receiving from a retail establishment, by a designated distribution infrastructure, an ink jet cartridge which has been depleted of ink. The received ink jet cartridge is transported and delivered, by the designated distribution infrastructure, to a commercial refiller. After filling, the processed ink jet cartridge is received, by the designated distribution infrastructure, from the commercial refiner and transported and delivered, by the designated distribution infrastructure, to the retail outlet for sale to consumers.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

The drawing shows a method for collecting reuseable ink-depleted cartridges from a retail establishment, delivering the collected cartridges to a commercial refiner using the same single designated distribution channel as is used for providing refilled ink jet cartridges to a consumer via the retail establishment.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring now to the drawings, the present invention provides for a system or method for collecting and delivering reuseable ink-depleted cartridges to a commercial refiner and for providing refilled ink jet cartridges to a retail establishment, using a single designated distribution infrastructure. As shown in the drawing, a consumer 10 is presumed to have enjoyed the use of an ink jet printer, copier, etc. and to have depleted the ink in one or more ink jet cartridges. The term “depleted”, as used herein is meant to include emptied and/near-emptied, as it is generally recommended that ink jet cartridges be refilled before they are totally empty.

Consumer 10 delivers, via path 12, the ink-depleted cartridge to a retail establishment 14 which deals in ink jet cartridges. The retail establishment may be a conventional store, a mail order business, an internet business, or other similar outlet dealing in ink jet cartridges. The consumer may, as illustrated by dotted path 16, purchase a new cartridge or a refilled cartridge, or the consumer may agree to take delivery of the same cartridge as he or she delivered to the retail establishment etc., after refilling, as explained herein below.

Retail establishments are often supplied by companies having distribution infrastructures; either owned by the supplier or by way of designated distributors. Other forms of distribution include public and private package delivery concerns. The present invention relates to those suppliers who distribute products to retail establishments by way of designated distribution infrastructures.

According to a feature of the present invention, reuseable ink-depleted cartridges are collected via path 20 from consumers by retail establishments 14. The collected cartridges are picked up from the retail establishment by a designated distributor 18 while making deliveries of various commodities to the retail establishment. Preferably, distributor 18 is in the business of distribution imaging supplies such as for example ink jet paper, photographic film, cameras, etc. The distributor may also pick up imaged photographic film for delivery to and from photographic processing labs.

Distributor 18 has an infrastructure for reliably interfacing between one or more suppliers and various retail establishments, preferably on a regular schedule. One such supplier includes one or more companies 22 that refill reuseable ink-depleted cartridges. Company 22 processes the cartridges such as by filling, testing, packaging, etc. Cartridges that do not pass quality tests are discarded, as illustrated at 23.

Distributor 18 may receive additional reuseable ink-depleted cartridges from collection sites, brokers, etc., as represented at 24, and delivers the collected cartridges to refiller company 22 via a path 26. While at the refiner company, distributor 18 may pick up already refilled in cartridges, as represented by path 28, for transportation and delivery to retail establishments 14 (path 30).

In the prior example, the consumer does not necessarily purchase the same cartridge as he or she delivers to the retail establishment; but rather would be expected to buy a refilled cartridge at the same time that the reuseable ink-depleted cartridge was left at the retail establishment. In an alternative embodiment of the invention, the consumer delivers a reuseable ink-depleted cartridge to retail establishment 14 and returns later to receive the same cartridge after it has been refilled by company 22.

The invention has been described in detail with particular reference to certain preferred embodiments thereof, but it will be understood that variations and modifications can be effected within the spirit and scope of the invention.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7303249Mar 10, 2006Dec 4, 2007Tonerhead, Inc.Method and apparatus for a printer cartridge tester
US7665819Apr 20, 2006Feb 23, 2010Tonerhead, Inc.Method and apparatus for a printer cartridge tester
Classifications
U.S. Classification206/578
International ClassificationB41J2/175, G06Q10/00
Cooperative ClassificationG06Q10/08, B41J2/17506
European ClassificationG06Q10/08, B41J2/175C1
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 25, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY, NEW YORK
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:GIBELEY, MARC M.;LINNANE, FRANCIS B.;DOCTOR, STEVEN D.;REEL/FRAME:014720/0432
Effective date: 20031113