Lexmark: Refills a Big No-No

By Justin Mann on September 5, 2005, 3:24 PM
In a recent ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court, Lexmark was correct in their statement that a 3rd-party refill system for an Inkjet cartridge was unlawful, because you had agreed to the Lexmark terms when opening their packages. Apparently, contract law designed for software now applies to hardware as well. Though Lexmark is no neophyte in the realm of legislation (Lexmark tried to ban refill carts completely in the past, for all printers), this does seem to have gone overboard. The article has a link to the ruling itself as well as an explanation of how this is possible. I don't know much about contract law but from the gist of it, it seems consumers would only be violating a term of service and therefore wouldn't be allowed to use that printer again. The real target, here, are the printer cart refill manufacturers. Lexmark no like. Lexmark crush. Such is the way of business and politics.

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S S Tan said:
The judgement is fair. The prebated cartridge is cheaper than the regular cartridge. For the consideration of the discount, Lexmark insists on certain conditions one of which in short is 'no refilling'.What would be wrong would be that Lexmark keeps the regular cartridges off the shelves, thus depriving consumers of the right of choice. I am assuming that the regular cartridge does not carry such 'no refilling' restriction. Would this be ground for a class action suit if I can only source prebated cartridges and not regular cartridges?Perhaps it may be better that Lexmark comes to terms with the real world and that consumers want freedom of choice and not an impositon of an arbitrary practice even if it supported at law. Once goodwill is lost, it is seldom regained. They should take a leaf from the new IBM who today is sharing patents not only with their consumers but also with their competitors to the benefit of greater sales and higher profits for all parties.
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