back to article Lexmark files patent gripe against 24 cartridge makers

Printer maker Lexmark has probably run out of ink today after firing off 24 patent lawsuits to cartridge vendors on Monday. The Lexington, Kentucky-based company said in a statement yesterday that it had filed a patent infringement complaint with the US International Trade Commission against 24 firms. "The complaint alleges …


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  1. Sarah Davis

    Lexmark Shmexmark

    if Lexmark and other printer makers didn't charge rip-off prices for their ink cartridges then the 3rd party ink cartridge market would never have evolved in the first place

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If people would pay a fair price for a printer, they wouldn't get ripped off with expensive ink.

      Do you really think an inkjet printer should cost £30, many do, it seems rather cheap to me. Same argument goes for games consoles...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Any printer company will rip you off

        "If people would pay a fair price for a printer, they wouldn't get ripped off with expensive ink."

        A statement which don't have and cant have any contact with reality, ie. bullshit.

        Lexmark will rip you as much they can and this act is showing it very clearly. Anyone thinking otherwise isn't actually living in the same world as the rest of us: Any printer company will rip you off. And there's nothing you can do about it: Except of course if not buying a printer is an option.

      2. A J Stiles

        Yes, but

        You misunderstand human nature.

        People will gladly pay for champagne limousine rides to nightclubs ..... but they won't pay for holiday insurance.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        @ Also

        Oh Rly? The last Lexmark laser we made the mistake of buying cost about $800. It gobbles up color toner when printing B&W pages, is microchipped with no 3rd party replacements, and a round of cartridges costs little less than the printer itself did.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        Bulk product, hand made price, why?

        "Do you really think an inkjet printer should cost £30."

        Actually I _know_ it doesn't. If you manage to use more than £15 to manufacture it, you've done something badly wtrong. If you sometime bother to think about it, you'll notice it has very few moving parts and not a single complicated part (except maybe the printing head).

        _What_ is there to raise the cost? Nothing.

        Plastic chassis in bulk cost less than £5 and the electronics needed is one IC, £1 per machine. You have to realize that these are bulk products, made in millions.

      5. Nuke

        @ Fraser

        You wrote :-

        "If people would pay a fair price for a printer, they wouldn't get ripped off with expensive ink.

        Do you really think an inkjet printer should cost £30 [?]"

        I paid more like 10x that amount for a (HP) printer and I still get ripped off for ink. Costs nearly £100 for a new set of cartridges.

  2. A J Stiles

    Hello? Sherman? Magnusson and Moss?

    If there are any patents, they'll be annulled before you can say "anti-competitive behaviour".

  3. dotdavid
    Thumb Down

    Rip-off cartridges

    When it is almost as cheap to buy a brand new printer than to buy a new ink cartridge you know they're basically just profiteering. Oh I'm sure some people argue that there's nothing wrong with this "razor blade" business model, but it does get on my nerves.

    However considering how many 3rd party cartridge manufacturers there are around, I'm a bit puzzled why you can't seem to get Gilette-compatible 3rd party razor blades. Do the razor companies have better lawyers maybe?

  4. GettinSadda

    Which companies?

    Oh, please tell us which companies sell these cheaper inks/toners for Lexmark printers - then we can choose them rather than the total rip-off of the "original" ink.

    The black ink for my printer works out at £1 per ml - that's over £500 per pint. Unless this is made from unicorn blood, there is no way in the world that there can be any justification for this price. It is simply a 100% rip-off.

  5. Alan 6


    Why is it that I can buy any make of oil filter for my car, and feed it with any make of diesel, but Printer manufacturers seem to be able to get away with insisting that you only use their ink and cartridges?

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Yes but

    If they sold you the cartridges at a non-rip-off prices, they would have to sale the printer at a profit instead of at a lost. Then again, it doesn't make a lot of sense when you pay 80% of the price of a new printer every time you need ink.

  7. James 5

    Agree with Sarah

    Lexmark have always sold their printers dirt cheap so they could "reap" the benefits of the "dripping roast" of the continuous and expensive cartridges their users needed.

    We live in a competitive market - that's what the "free" market is about. If Lexmark can't stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen (and yes, that is meant to tie in with the dripping roast !).

    I once bought a Lexmark - it lasted until the ink ran out then it was put into the local recycle place where it belonged.

    Could Lexmark be the Ratner of the printer world?

  8. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    How they have fallen

    We have some old monochrome Lexmark laser printers, long lasting, good cost per page. But now, they are crap! A friend of mine got one of their ink jets as part of a PC deal, and it was cheaper to buy an Epson replacement printer than two new cartridges!

    Advice for anyone: Never buy a printer without good 3rd party supplies, even if you intend sticking to the original (and often best) product. If they litigate (like Lexmark) then dump them! Otherwise you are just lining up with the lube ready...

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Patenly nonesense

    As has been demonstrated many times in the past, most of these patents that printer manufacturers bang on about are just systems specifically designed to try and stop other people making print cartridges. They have nothing at all to do with the actual functioning of the printer.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm with Sarah Davis

    Maybe boycott Lexmark, and send those a******s a message. Bring those cartridge prices down!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "However considering how many 3rd party cartridge manufacturers there are around, I'm a bit puzzled why you can't seem to get Gilette-compatible 3rd party razor blades. Do the razor companies have better lawyers maybe?"

      I'm puzzled why you haven't found them. Try looking in Boots and Superdrug, and read the boxes carefully.

    2. James O'Brien
      Thumb Down

      Sorry to burst your bubble AJ

      But remember this is the is US of A. We dont care about laws. chances are the courts will side with Lexmark and all that fun shit.

      This is one reason why I dont like Lexmark. That and the way they replace the print spooler service when you install one.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Armstrong vs British Leyland

      is the reason you can buy oil filters. Unfortunately when the Copyright Designs and Patents act was written it pretty much explicitly said it shouldn't extend to printer consumables due "supposedly" to a case in Hong Kong.

      Basically they couldn't invalidate Armstrong Vs British Leyland but they hobbled how far it could extend.

    4. greyware is evil


      Didn't your EULA include the NDA?

      Unicorns are the salvation for the (living) planet! Their farts are the alternative fuel holy grail.

      simply because it doesn't currently exist (or is otherwise unattainable) is no reason to not pass laws requiring unicorn fart power production with iron fisting penalties for non-compliance

  11. N2 Silver badge

    Typical actions

    Of a real shit hole printer manufacturer.

    Now people have got wise their ink cartridges cost a fortune they have to turn to other revenue streams

  12. Daniel M

    Misleading article and wandering readers

    "Lexmark has probably run out of ink today"

    If you read further and follow the link, you will see that Lexmark is suing over TONER CARTRIDGES. Yes, Lexmark has some of the cheapest and worst INKJET printers and the most expensive INK CARTRIDGES in these United States, ... but that is not what the article is about.

    1. Jodo Kast

      same thing

      Toner is to laser printers is what ink is for inkjet printers.

      The point is: Lexmark is a rip-off for any replacement ink type.

  13. Alex McKenna

    Greedy Ink Makers

    I have decided to rely on PDFs rather than print out A4 sheets any more, because of the ridiculous price of HP laser toners.

    I used to do laser proofs of every magazine page, and update every time a page was changed or corrected, but now we check everything on screen.

    No more "Book" for this magazine.

    When the HP inks finally die, I might just get something else for the few items we need prints for.

  14. JaitcH


    In Canada returned 'name' cartridges attract quite a premium as they are refurbished and refilled.

    Is Lexmark after copy cartridges only or after the toner powder refillers?

  15. Stu_The_Jock

    Cheap printer - Extortion for ink/toner

    It's a simple thing. If you only need to print a small amount occasionally, a cheap printer with expensive inks is fine.

    If you print more, then pay more for your printer first, then less everytime you refuel it.

    analogies about cars don't follow. Ford don't sell you a car below cost price.

    It's not just the home / small office printer market works this way. If you lease a copier, most agreements will look at your expected use. Light use = higher monthly costs and per page pricing. If you plan on printing 1,000s of pages a day / week you can get a MUCH lower monthly price and per page costs, as the makers recover the costs of the machine that way.

    Printer makers run a BUSINESS, and to run a business, you need to make a profit on the "total cost" of providing the machine to the customer. Either via higher purchase prices, or though higher ongoing costs for consumables.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Yet another patent troll

    ""The complaint alleges that these replacement cartridges infringe at least 15 US patents owned by Lexmark," said the company."

    Lexmark is going the way of patent trolls. Those are companies and directors that should be shot.

  17. J. Cook Silver badge

    Their toner carts aren't all that cheaper either...

    Ah, Lexmark, apparently you didn't see what happened to your friend HP when they pulled the same stunt a number of years ago for their inkjet carts.

    And yes, while I will never buy a lexmark inkjet based on refill prices, I might still consider their old Optra line of laser printers if it were not for the fact that the toner carts cost over $200 for a new one that was good for ~20K pages.

    Mines the one with the printer service manual pocket references in it.

  18. Lewis Paragraph

    Not just Lexmark...

    I used to have an Epson S21 which developed a habit of insisting that the brand new genuine Epson ink cartridges were not so after printing a couple of pages, and then refused to work unlkess I put in yet another brand new cartridge.

    I eventually fixed the problem with a 14lb Sledge Hammer and bought a printer from a different manufacturer.

    Not the most cost effective solution, but it sure felt good. Won't be buying another printer from that shower of shit anytime soon.

    1. greyware is evil

      hooray green fascism

      save a tree: use more electricity!

      (save a tree: burn more coal)

  19. Goat Jam


    Thanks Lexmark, before you did this I may have been in danger of forgetting why I will never buy one of your craptastic products again.

  20. Tom 13

    So the question now is, will the judge who hears the Lexmark case be as

    wise and just as the one who heard the DCMA case vis a vie ink/toner cartridges and summarily tossed them?

    Where's the roulette wheel icon when you need it?

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Buy their cartridge once and again only if it clogs - learn to refill!

    Hi, there are plenty of ways to get around expensive replacement cartridges. Just buy a refill kit with the black and all the colors. It comes with a syringe and blunt needle. Also includes instructions to refill. Just make sure you get it from company that matches the orginal ink, generic kits will clog the cartridge. After that just buy bulk ink in bottles. I get 16 oz of black and 4 oz of each color. costs about $75 and last me for years. Also invest in rubber gloves like doctors and nurses wear. Ammonia or dilute chlox will remove the ink. Even human spit works, the inks are all organic in nature. I buy maybe 2 cartidges a year because the do clog up after about 6 months.

  22. candtalan

    A reason

    to avoid buying Lexmark

  23. greyware is evil

    a new way for lexmark to profit from shit?

    lexmark sells almost-printers: no power inside relying on host machine while inflicting BLOATWARE drivers, and needless BLOATware applications

    a quick death to lexmark would be a win for ignorant consumers

  24. greyware is evil

    DIY illegal

    soon the though police will don their shock boots and deploy lines from black helicopters to

    put a stop to savvy users DIY in refilling

    how dare you not spend money as directed


    shame on me for using my xbox1 ONLY to run xbmc

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