Lexmark gets sued over Return Program technology

March 30, 2010

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.

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Circuit City, I bid you adios

January 18, 2009

Well the word came out on Friday.  Circuit City is closing the remaining USA stores by the end of March.  And now you are seeing blogs and articles regarding buying stuff from a company going out of business.  Is it really a deal, what happens if it breaks, what about my old extended warranty?  I am not going to get into that, look on MSN and Yahoo for that information.

I want to talk about their printers.  A while ago, I made a post regarding CC and Lexmark printers.  That their exclusive printers they sold from Lexmark were really Europe models, which means you needed to get your cartridges from CC, or Lexmark UK (and on some, Lexmark.com).  Now with them going out of business, what does that mean for the supplies.  (see my article here)

On some cartridges, O-ink does have the replacements, like the Lexmark #2 and #3.  Others like the #4 and #5 are available on Lexmark’s website.  Most of the people who did get them from Circuit City just might have to get a new printer.  I hope Lexmark smartens up a little and will offer the CC only cartridges on there website.

Even though I did not like this marketing practice that they did, I do feel sorry for the over 30,000 employees who will be out of a job by March 31st.


Another Price Increase, This Time, Lexmark

October 14, 2008

Lexmark just announced (September 2nd) a roughly 5% increase in prices for their supplies.  This falls in line with what I blogged about earlier about price increases.  This will affect the retail market on November 3rd.

While O-ink will be raising our prices on the Lexmark Brand cartridges, our replacement brand will not be affected at all and we do not see a price increase in the next 6 months.


Replacement Lexmark #3 in stock

October 6, 2008

It has taken a while, but O-ink finally has the Replacement cartridge for the Lexmark #3 Black in stock and available at both stores and our website.

Price is $15.99 and is filled to the same capacity as the Original Lexmark cartridge.

If you need one today, now is your chance.

Lexmark Replacement #3 Black Inkjet cartridge

Works in the following printers:
X2580, X3480, X3580, X4580, Z1480

Page Yield – Same as OEM

  • Model: 18C1530
  • Shipping Weight: 0.25lbs
  • 5 Units in Stock

Lexmark getting out of inkjet printers – Possibly

September 18, 2008

When you talk to people about printers, and what ones they own, Lexmark is usually a typical response.  When you ask them why they bought it, most of the time, the reason is the price.  Lexmark is well known for making cheap printer.  Cheap to buy, but not good printers or cheap to own printers.  Lexmark is on average, the most costliest printer to own over it’s life span.  However, if the resent financial reports mean anything, Lexmark will be exiting the inkjet printer business stage left.

2nd quarter revenue was down 6%.  While their business side grew by 4%, the consumer side was down 21%, which they blame on a slowing pace in the inkjet market.  They also announced they are closing a big factory in Mexico and moving it to a cheaper country.

Rumors are that Lexmark highered a consulting firm that more or less told them to get out of the inkjet printer market or find a way to make it profitable.

Lexmark has yet to produce a single product that I would recommend to a customer or a business.  Yes the printers are cheap, but that is not where the cost are.  Their consumables are the worst on the market and not to mention the most costly.  Their quality and ink lag behind the likes of Canon, HP, and Epson.  And the life span of their products is dismal.

For Lexmark to get out of the inkjet printer industry would be a silent blessing.  Consumers might get mad at the fact there are fewer cheap printers, but you need to look at printers in the long run, not the short hall.  Unless Lexmark makes a dramatic turn around in the quality of their products, they should be done with inkjets in about 2 years, I think.


Empty Cartridges = Cash

September 2, 2008

Every wonder what to do with those empty HP, Canon, Lexmark, and Dell cartridges?  Wonder if there is a way to turn them into cash?

At O-ink, we use to have a program that you could mail in your empty cartridges for cash.  However, our affiliate decided to close their doors.  Now we have started our own collection process.

The process is simple, you collect empty cartridges and then mail them into us when you feel the need.  No rush of course.  There is a small form for you to fill out, to show you how much each cartridge is possibly worth assuming it passes our inspections.  At the end of the month, we issue you a check.

The question is, how much can you earn?  Some cartridges are only worth 25 cents, while others are worth $3.

Here is the link for the program.

We recommend that you send in at least 5 or more cartridges per mailing and recommending using the USPS for the cheapest rates.


First Sony installs spyware, now Lexmark does.

July 15, 2008

In one of our industry forums that I visit, there has been quite a buzz with the Lexmark Return Program cartridges, and how much a pain they are.  Recently one of the members posted a message about a file called lx_cats and that deleting it helped his customer.  So I did some digging and found a great article at http://www.theinternetpatrol.com.

Do you have a Lexmark printer? If so, you could also have Lexmark’s Lx_CATS spyware — which Lexmark euphemistically calls “tracking software” for “reporting printer and cartridge use back to the company for survey purposes” — living on your computer, without your knowledge.

A user calling himself “Commander” has posted to the printer-focused Usenet group, comp.periphs.printers, that:

“Just the other day I purchased a new Lexmark X5250 All-in-one printer. I installed it as per the instructions and monitored the install with Norton as I do with all new software.

On reviewing the install log I noticed a program called Lx_CATS had been placed in the c:program files directory. I investigated and found a data log and an initialisation file called Lx_CATS.ini. Further investigation of this file showed that Lexmark had, without my permission, loaded a Trojan backdoor on to my computer. Furthermore, it is embedded into the system registry, so average users would likely never know it was there and active.”

Commander noticed that the spyware was programmed to surreptitiously report back to a URL, http://www.lxkcc1.com, every thirty days. lxkcc1.com is registered to Lexmark International, Inc..

When Commander called Lexmark to demand an explanation, the company first denied that they had installed any spyware at all. Ultimately the person with whom he spoke conceded that Lexmark installs “tracking software” on their users’ computers “to report back on printer and cartridge use for survey purposes.” While the Lexmark representative avowed that they did not transmit any personal information, they also admitted that the program does transmit the printer’s serial number, which of course is registered to the user. No personal information my foot!

Rumours of the installation of spyware along with their printer software have swirled around Lexmark for several years, and posts to Usenet complaining of Lexmark spyware date from as early as 2001. Some users complain of their computer trying to connect to the Internet every time they print a document; others worry that the program is reporting not only their cartridge usage, but whether they are using non-Lexmark cartridges, or even refilling their own cartridges, thus possibly setting the stage for a denial of warranty service.

According to “Commander”, the offending files include a program file called lx_CATS, and a related .ini file, lx_CATS.ini, as well as 2 DLL files in the c:program fileslexmark500 folder.

In order to remove Lexmark’s spyware from your system, delete the file (probably in your c:program directory) called “lx_cats.exe”, and also search for and remove a file called “lx_cats.ini” (and, for that matter, any other file including the term “lx_cats”).”

It seems that Lexmark is taking Sony’s playbook for a ride.  If you delete these files and folders, do not worry, your printer will still work, however your ink level might remain at low, even when you exchange your cartridge.  We are recommending all of our customers to delete these files ASAP.

For the full article visit here