Brother Industries has been granted a patent for an image forming apparatus that includes a main body, drum cartridge, toner cartridge, main memory, and controller. The controller determines the number of printable sheets using the attached toner cartridge and drum cartridge, as well as the number of printable sheets using a new toner cartridge. If the sum of the printable sheets using the attached toner cartridge and new toner cartridge is greater than or equal to the printable sheets using the drum cartridge, a signal is sent to a server to order a new drum cartridge and toner cartridge. GlobalData’s report on Brother Industries gives a 360-degree view of the company including its patenting strategy. Buy the report here.

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According to GlobalData’s company profile on Brother Industries, E-transaction user interfaces was a key innovation area identified from patents. Brother Industries's grant share as of September 2023 was 43%. Grant share is based on the ratio of number of grants to total number of patents.

Image forming apparatus with automatic ordering of drum and toner cartridges

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Credit: Brother Industries Ltd

The granted patent (Publication Number: US11774894B2) describes an image forming apparatus that includes a main body, a drum cartridge, a toner cartridge, a main memory, and a controller. The controller is configured to perform various processes related to image formation and cartridge replacement.

One of the key features of the image forming apparatus is the ability of the controller to count the cumulative dot count and the first cumulative printed sheet number, which represent the number of dots formed and the number of sheets printed using the toner cartridge attached to the main body. The controller also counts the second cumulative printed sheet number, which represents the number of sheets printed using the drum cartridge attached to the main body. These counts are stored in the main memory.

Based on these counts, the controller performs several processes. The first process determines the first printable sheet number, which indicates the number of sheets that can be printed using the toner cartridge. The second process determines the second printable sheet number, which indicates the number of sheets that can be printed using the drum cartridge. The third process determines the third printable sheet number, which indicates the number of sheets that can be printed using a new toner cartridge.

If the sum of the first printable sheet number and the third printable sheet number is greater than or equal to the second printable sheet number, the controller transmits a signal to a server to order a new drum cartridge together with a new toner cartridge.

The patent also describes additional features of the image forming apparatus. For example, the controller can determine the remaining quantity of toner in the toner cartridge and perform the processes for cartridge replacement when the remaining quantity is below a certain threshold value. The controller can also count the cumulative rotation number of the developing roller and use it in the determination of the first printable sheet number.

The patent also includes a claim for a server that is configured to communicate with the image forming apparatus. The server receives the cumulative dot count, the first cumulative printed sheet number, and the second cumulative printed sheet number from the image forming apparatus. It then determines the first printable sheet number, the second printable sheet number, and the third printable sheet number, and orders new cartridges based on these determinations.

Overall, the granted patent describes an image forming apparatus and a server that work together to optimize cartridge replacement based on various counts and calculations performed by the controller.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData Patent Analytics tracks bibliographic data, legal events data, point in time patent ownerships, and backward and forward citations from global patenting offices. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.