Lexmark gets sued over Return Program technology

When Lexmark came out with the Return Program Inkjet Cartridge, quite a few people in the inkjet remanufacturing industry took note.  The Return Program inkjet cartridges have a built in kill feature that prevents a user or company from refilling and reusing that cartridge.  For Lexmark this is a great money move, because it forces people to buy their cartridges, which means more money from them.  Currently, from what I can tell, there is around 12 or so inkjet models that are Return Program Cartridges.

No one has found a way to get around the electronic aspect of the cartridge.  Now for Lexmark everything is going all good and that, but there was a small problem that arose.  Apparently, Lexmark took the kill feature that they use in their Return Program Cartridges from another company.  On Feburary 22nd, 2010, Advanced Cartridge Technologies (we will call them ACT to save on time) sued Lexmark for patent infrindgement (link).  Apparently ACT has three patent’s that they claim Lexmark is using without permission.

So how does this affect the user, nothing yet.  However, if Lexmark loses (remember court battles can take years), there are two possible outcomes.  1.  This could drive Lexmark under.  ACT is seeking Triple damages.  If Lexmark closes, there goes the supply of cartridges.  (I doubt this could or will happen, but there is that possiblity.)

2.  Lexmark stops the Return Program for Inkjets.  Lexmark has in place for all of their Return Program Inkjet Cartridges a replacement cartridge that technically be refilled called the “A” version.  The problem is that these cartridges cost around $2 more and are hard to find in a retail store.  The lawsuit could stop the sales of Return Program cartridges and force consumers to spend more on already expensive inkjet cartridges.

We are years away from this lawsuit affecting anyone, but it will interesting to see what happens.

2 Responses to Lexmark gets sued over Return Program technology

  1. Ducky says:

    Those refilling their cartridges may find the extra $2 well worth the savings they will get from refilling their own cartridges. It is also nice for the person that wants an original cartridge and to have the cheaper option. However it is not very “green” to have a cartridge you cant refill. Also, having more than one, of essentially the same cartridge, makes knowing which cartridge to get for your printer more difficult and possibly more expensive than it should be.

  2. Carol says:

    I’ve been a little bit disgusted with Lexmark from the beginning. I have a Lexmark 2350 AIOC & I am currently out of ink as usual because the ink cartridges are just too high. I’ve often wondered why they can’t have the Lexmark #1 cartridge in a store brand like they do for all other brand cartridges.It’s like you’re being forced to buy from Lexmark & make them even richer while you get poorer & poorer trying to keep ink in your printer. Besides,my AIO is haunted. It tries to print all by itself when noone is even around it & the computer is turned off & I have the Fax disabled.

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