Packard Bell Electronics in the US has announced the settlement of remaining legal issues stemming from its recycling of components from returned personal computers.
The dispute dates back to April 1995, when Compaq filed a lawsuit asserting that Packard Bell disassembled many of its returned computers, and reused some components in computers sold as new. Packard Bell in turn charged that Compaq was doing the same thing, only with whole systems, not just components, according to a lawyer representing Packard Bell. The lawsuits triggered a broader investigation by attorneys-general into PC vendors' recycling practices in 22 US states.
In Packard Bell's case, machines received back from retailers are routinely disassembled - including PCs in unopened cartons - and the components re-tested before placement in other systems to be sold as new, company officials said.
With the settlement, "Packard Bell is not changing its practices at all, except for making disclosure on the exterior of the carton", said the company's lawyer. Packard Bell will include the phrase "may include components from a pre-viously sold computer" on the outside of cartons.
The practice of recycling parts is not limited to PC vendors, according to one observer. "It isn't a PC problem, it's an equipment problem," said Esther Roditti, editor and publisher of the "Computer Law and Tax Report".