Seiko Epson Corporation successfully killed a class-action lawsuit against its so-called “self-destruct” printer software, alleging the Japanese firm committed everything from fraud to hacking with the goal of harming rivals, which also ended up affecting its clients. The conglomerate saw the litigation come to an abrupt end before it even started, or at least that’s what’s suggested by the fact its two plaintiffs asked the presiding court to drop the process on their own.
Accusations of “fraudulent” and “unfair” behavior pulled with no explanation
With no further reasoning provided by the instigators, it’s quite likely Epson settled with them outside of the courtroom, as is usually the case with such cases. As of today, it’s unclear whether Richard Famiglietti and William Mondigo managed to gather significant momentum for their class action, with the plaintiffs originally looking for other Epson clients harmed by what they suspected was illegal behavior on behalf of the Japanese company.
While speculating on the potential outcome of a case that never even got going would be frivolous, it is quite likely Famiglietti and Mondigo would have managed to push it to trial had they not dropped the plan altogether. The pair’s legal team targeted Epson’s controversial policy of remotely disabling its printers via software updates in case it detects they use third-party ink cartridges. Coupled with a demonstrable intent to do so with the goal of increasing its market performance by hurting providers of cheaper ink cartridges, Epson was accused of violating both federal law and no fewer than four separate state acts. Those include not just antitrust regulation but laws covering computer hacking, i.e. unauthorized device access.
The comprehensive strategy employed by the plaintiffs was largely interpreted as bold but viable following the lawsuit’s filing in mid-October. In other words, while it remains to be seen whether any of those accusations would have held up in court, Epson’s chances of getting them thrown out prior to trial based on any legal argumentation were essentially non-existent, especially after fraud law was invoked. Seeing how the plaintiffs ultimately did so on their own, it’s not a huge stretch to imagine Epson figured it would be cheaper to settle than finance a highly public court battle that would drag out for years. The Japanese company unsurprisingly issued no public remarks regarding the development.