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Legal Challenges Presented By OEM Printer Manufacturers For Printer Ink

2012-09-25

There are a number of legal challenges currently being presented by makers of OEM printer cartridges. These are typically companies that manufacture printers themselves and that claim ownership over the ink that goes into any printer, regardless of make. A number of legal issues have been raised by these OEM companies in an effort to shut down or reduce the number of printer ink refill and printer ink kit services on the market. These companies hope that by convincing judiciary bodies that their ink is proprietary, not only in blend but also in function, that they will be able to curtail the gains made by the refill ink and cheap ink cartridge market. So far, their success has been limited.

The reason such a market exists is due to the high prices attached to most OEM printer ink cartridges. A home printer can easy cost less than $100, but to purchase a new black and white and a color ink cartridge can cost more than half of that price, and must be done on a regular basis. Add to this the fact that many of these cartridges have a minimal amount of ink and do not print until their ink supply is exhausted and it is no wonder that consumers are looking for other options. It is out of this dissatisfaction with OEM ink that ink refill kits and generic printer ink cartridges were born. These options involve either refilling a brand-name printer ink kit with a non-OEM blend of ink or purchasing a replacement cartridge that is non-OEM and designed to fit several brands and models.

The legal challenges brought forth thus far by OEM manufacturer have centered around three things. The first is the makeup of the ink itself. OEM companies put patents on their ink blends that cannot be copied by refill suppliers or fines will be levied. Second are the warranty issues raised by using non-OEM cartridges. Printer companies often have warranties that are void if a non-OEM cartridge is used in the printer. Lastly, some companies are trying to argue that refill suppliers as a whole should be shut down as they are infringing on the concept of printer ink as created by the printer companies. They have gained some ground in this area, but not enough to put refill suppliers out of business.

While the legal landscape of printing and ink may soon change, purchasing printer ink refill kits is currently a viable and cheap way to restock a printer's ink supply and keep a company's bottom line as grounded as possible. Though OEM printer ink companies fight it, the world of replacement printer ink kits and refills is here to stay.