Actionable Intelligence’s Top 10 Stories of 2020

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Every December, Actionable Intelligence publishes its list of its 10 most popular stories of the year. This year that tradition feels different.

Perhaps the most interesting fact about Actionable Intelligence’s top 10 stories of 2020 is that none of the year’s top stories were about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resulting negative impact on the printer hardware and supplies industry. Certain COVID-19-related stories cracked the top 20, but I think the fact that Actionable Intelligence published so many stories related to the pandemic—so many reports about shrinking revenue and earnings, so many articles about plummeting office print volumes, so many stories about companies shifting to selling small-office/home-office (SOHO) printers and home-office bundles—meant that no one story grabbed all the attention.

2020 Top 10

  1. Actionable Intelligence Releases White Paper on the Risks Associated with Infringing Consumables
  2. Konica Minolta Battles String of Employee Class Actions
  3. Power of Print: HP Vows to Deliver Supplies Choices to Customers
  4. Brother Poised to Get Its First-Ever General Exclusion Order
  5. HP Launches First HP+ Printers That Require HP Ink and Toner
  6. HP Faces New Class Action over Color Ink Expended for Underprinting
  7. Xerox Addresses Executive Pay in New SEC Filing
  8. New Inkjet Firmware Class Action Filed against Epson
  9. Federal Circuit Upholds Aftermarket’s ITC Win against Canon
  10. Big Win for HP: Inkjet Firmware Class Action Is Dismissed

Our most popular article of 2020 was a free white paper released in January 2020 about the problems posed by infringing third-party cartridges. Articles about OEM patent-infringement claims against those making or selling third-party cartridges made the top 10 list. Our fourth most popular article was about it looking likely that Brother would get its first-ever general exclusion order (GEO) on its toner cartridge designs from the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). Our ninth most popular story was about the Federal Circuit affirming the ITC’s decision that various third-party cartridge vendors did not infringe Canon’s patents.

Also popular were stories about class-action lawsuits. A story about a few employee class actions against Konica Minolta was our second most popular article of the year. The sixth, eighth, and tenth most popular articles on our list were about class actions against OEMs over printers. The year saw a lot of activity in litigation over OEM printer firmware updates that prevent the use of third-party supplies.

In 2020, two of our most popular articles, number three and number five on our list, were about HP’s new strategy for its Printing business and the HP+ printers that require the use of only HP ink or toner cartridges.

COVID-19 Is Still the Big Story

Still, despite the slew of interesting new products, lawsuits, and developments in the industry in 2020, it seems undeniable that COVID-19 is the big story, impacting almost every area of the printer hardware and supplies industry. For our take on how COVID-19 impacted OEMs this year, see “OEMs Look into the Abyss in Industry’s Toughest Quarter Ever” and “A Battered Print Industry Begins to Show Some Signs of Life.”

As the year winds to a close, I am left with a bit of a conundrum: how does one sum up a year like 2020 in which our world was transformed seemingly overnight? All the 2020 memes are akin to whistling in the dark. But we needed that whistling. We needed bosses transforming themselves into potatoes on Microsoft Teams, Netflix shows like the Tiger King, TikTok dances, and people who baked incredible cakes disguised as everyday objects. We needed to laugh when we could because we have lost too much this year. As of this writing, 1.7 million people worldwide have died of COVID-19, many of us have lost loved ones, many of us have lost our health, many of us have lost jobs, many of us have lost faith in institutions, and nearly all of us have lost our faith in “normal.” We no longer take it for granted that our kids will be going to school, that we can hop in a car or on a plane to visit our loved ones, that we will be going to work in the office on Monday and heading off to the next big industry event on Tuesday, that the restaurant on the corner will be open, that we can hug our friends hello, and that we can find everything we need on store shelves.

But much that is good has come out of this terrible year. I think maybe the best thing is we have all been humbled and had to realize that we are all just humans, together (even if six-feet apart), doing the best we can in tough times. One of my favorite stories of juggling work and home life this year involves my youngest daughter, who understands that her parents work but does not give a hoot. I have a framed collage behind my desk featuring some sketches made by my great-great-great grandfather. They include a couple of very tiny, tasteful nudes. I found myself having to explain this one day when on a work call after my daughter wandered into the room, climbed on my lap, looked over my shoulder, and shouted a remark that could surely be horribly misinterpreted: “Mommy, why are there a bunch of NAKED PEOPLE behind you?”

And the truly great things about 2020 is everybody gets it. You forgive me my loud kid shouting about some tiny sketch she’s never bothered to notice before, and I’ll forgive you your barking dog or crying baby. You overlook my uniform of ponytail, T-shirt, and leggings, and I will overlook that you haven’t shaved and need a haircut. Beyond our working lives, the sense that we’re all humans and in this together has resulted in many acts of kindness and generosity in a year that desperately needed them.

Let’s keep that spirit going in 2021. Let us continue to forgive one another’s imperfections. Let us remember we never truly know what somebody else is going through and thus treat each other with kindness and respect. Let us remember to check in on elderly relatives and neighbors. If financially able, let us give to others. And let’s all try to have hope: we will get through this tough time.

Wishing you, your company, your colleagues, your family, and your friends health, happiness, and a brighter 2021.

—Christina Bonadio, Executive Editor, Actionable Intelligence

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