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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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.


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.


College Life and printers

July 30, 2008

In about one month from this post, the colleges across the United States will be filling up with students looking to expand their knowledge while hoping to do it without a lot of debt ( I am still paying mine off). New students are spending money right now to have all of their supplies and needs met.

  1. New sheets
  2. New cloths
  3. pens, paper, etc
  4. shoes
  5. technology (tv, computer, etc)
  6. and more

While some things are needed, not all of them are. Take printers for example. Most college students do not need them. Most of the ones that they do get come with the new computer they just purchased (Thanks Dell and HP). But the question remains, what is the best printer for college students? I am going to narrow the list down a little bit.

First thing first, what not to buy.

Stay away from Lexmark and Dell printers. While they may seem cheap to buy or in Dell’s case you get them for free with a computer purchase, the cost of the printer cartridges is extremely high. Plus, it can be hard to find the printer cartridges for certain Lexmark printers (see our post about Circuit City), and Dell cartridges are limited to Dell and Staples (although Staples only sells the low yield cartridges). Their quality is subpar as well.

Epson isn’t bad, but I still recommend staying away from them. They make great photo printers, like the R800, R1800, R1900, R2400, however, their lower end printers (under $200) have a high cost of ownership, meaning low ink volumes for high dollars.

All of the printers we recommend are based off from economic value of the printer cartridges and overall quality.

All-In-One’s

Price Ranges $100-$300

Offering’s from Canon – College students do not need a fax, so I am staying away from those. The Canon Pixma MP520, MP610, MP600 or for those wanting great photo quality MP970. You can find them from about $150 to $300 depending on the model you want. They all have individual cartridges (ranging from 4 to 7) along with duplex printing. Cartridges can be found on our site for $10 for the black and $9.25 for the colors.

Offerings from HP – Photosmart C4385, C5280, C6280. All of them offer good quality print outs and low cost of ownership as long as you stick with the XL cartridges.

Printers

Canon – Canon Pixma iP3500 or iP4500 $80 and $130 for each. The iP4500 gives you duplex printing and a dye based black for photo printing.

HP – This one is wide open so instead of printers, I will just list some rules of thumb.

  1. Keep the printer more than $80
  2. Stay away from printers that use the 21 or 92 black and the 22 and 93 color cartridges. They are the most costly cartridges that HP makes.
  3. Check to see if your printer will take an XL cartridge, if they do, buy the XL instead of the standard as it is more economical.
  4. If you get a printer that uses the HP 02 cartridges, do not buy the photo pack of cartridges. They are only half full versions of those cartridges so they cost more to run than the standard cartridges. Side note – The HP 02 cartridges that O-ink has are filled to double the capacity of the standard HP 02’s.

Well if you are off to college, good luck, study hard. I hope this helps you in finding a printer that will work for you.

While I did not cover laser printers, if you are looking for a low end laser printer, look at Brother’s HL-2140. It is more economical to keep than any of HP’s low end printers.

Once you get your printer, make sure to keep it loaded with cartridges.  Check out our site to get the lowest prices as well as great quality


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


Moderate Yield Ink, what is it?

June 15, 2008

I have been getting a lot of searches on “moderate yield ink levels”.  So I figured I would spell it out plain and simple.  It is a waste of money.

Lexmark is the most common company that does moderate yield cartridges.  Cartridges like the 17, 71, 49, 19, and 32  are only  half full cartridges.

Here are some numbers.  Lexmark 17 cost $21 for roughly 200 pages.  Lexmark 16, which is physically identical, cost $33 for 400 pages.  For 12 bucks more you get 200 more pages.  Same with the Lexmark 71 and 70, the 70 cost about $35 for 600 pages, while the 71 cost about $22 for 255 pages.

Bottomline, if you see moderate yield ink, don’t get it.  Get the High yield or Standard yield cartridge for your printer, it will save you money in the long run.