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Lexmark DMCA Case Winds On 353

The EFF filed a brief (brief, press release) in the ongoing case over Lexmark incorporating copyright-protected code in their printer cartridges in order to prevent competitors from producing compatible cartridges for their printers. The BBC notes some of the harmful effects of lack of competition in the industry.
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Lexmark DMCA Case Winds On

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  • by H0NGK0NGPH00EY ( 210370 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:16AM (#6358711) Homepage
    ...don't buy Lexmark printers? I mean, seriously, as long as Canon and HP et al aren't pulling these type of stunts, won't the market take care of this itself?
    • My thoughts exactly. In my opinion Lexmark printers are junk anyway. I've never had a printer jam so often or crash Windows with such ease. They make throwaway printers.
      • Cost of a Lexmark printer on sale minus (cost of color replacement cartridge + cost of black replacement cartridge) is most times less than $20 (usually $10). It seems to me they are priced to be throw aways.

        It's almost worth the extra few bucks to buy the new printer so you don't have to worry about making sure you bought the right cartridges.
      • My Z53's a nice printer, hasn't severely bolloxed up on me much (though the OS X driver is pure shit). I don't seem to have much functional luck with printers: almost all non-laser printers I've dealt with have stopped working in various exciting ways. I have an old junky Canon at my feet, when I turn it on, it makes noises for a good ten minutes and doesn't play nice with CUPS, despite the fact there's a driver for it.
    • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:21AM (#6358750) Homepage
      Tell me about it. We've upgraded one of the printers we have at work from one HP to another HP (2500 Banner printer to the 5500). This is a printer that can handle 42" wide rolls of paper, and prints amazingly fast, and at good quality. So, you'd expect that it would run out of ink fairly quickly, right?

      Wrong. The ink cartridges, IIRC, hold 680 mL of ink (one of six colours for this model), and I believe that we've changed out only 2 of the individual cartridges in the 7+ weeks we've had the printer. And we've been using it a lot.

      Now, to be completely fair, we cannot use any other type of ink in this, as it will only take the HP inks. But when I replaced one of the cartridges last week, the old one was practically bone dry. It will print until it runs out of one of the inks, but it will only warn you about low ink, not stop printing altogether.

      • by diatonic ( 318560 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:53AM (#6359063) Homepage
        Actually, the HP DesignJet 5500 does track ink usage and will not let you print when the cartrige goes empty. It does this to prevent air from getting into the lines that feed ink to the print heads. If air gets into those lines you're in for an expensive repair. There are companies that sell ink refill kits, but it stops the printers ability to track ink usage (because the ink level becomes unknown) and the printer can't tell when the cartriges should be replaced. I'd recommend sticking with genuine HP supplies.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2003 @11:22AM (#6359328)
        Only one problem with HP. they quietly added chips to the business printers'carts to add expiration dates to them. If the cartrige gets x months beyond the mfr date, even if its full, it reads empty. Supposedly to prevent print defects from old ink... yeah right.

    • by RandomWhiteMan ( 685768 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:22AM (#6358754)
      There's acctually a big differene in Lexmark printers out there. Don't ever buy one from their home line of printers. I had one and it was broke after my first year of college. Their business class printers however are pretty decent. A friend of mine interned with them working on the business class drivers and claimed they were really good printers, but the home models sucked.
      • Don't ever buy one from their home line of printers. I had one and it was broke after my first year of college.

        Better yet - buy it from Best Buy and get the service plan. I do this for most everything and I put it in my calendar to "break it" just prior to the expiration. Since most new electronics are CRAP, I usually don't have to worry about this. I just did this with my cell phone (that legitmately failed after 2.5 years). Because they don't repair things anymore and because they don't carry the ph
        • Better yet - buy it from Best Buy and get the service plan.

          I bought a VAIO from Best Buy, and bought the extended warrantee to go along with it. A year or two later, the keyboard started to die, one key at a time. I got it replaced, after getting proper authorization. I was instructed to pay for the repair, and forward the bill. I did so. That was a more than year ago. Despite repeated phone calls and emails, I'm still trying to collect the payment. I'm out $175.

          As far as I can see, they're runnin
      • I second that. I bought a 4029 Laser about.. 8 years ago and it's stll going perfectly well. Never broke on me, even when I left it in storage for 2 years, it was right as rain when I brought it out.

        However, if you buy the cheapest of cheap inkjet printers.. what do you expect!?
      • Don't ever buy a Lexmark full stop.

        I used to work for a network install/maintainance firm, and being the youngest had to go out and fix any printer problems.

        HPs pulled apart fine, so did Epsons. I can still stip a LJIII in under 3 minutes! Lexmarks however were all, without exception, cheap plasticy lumps of rubbish - fix them and they would break again in 10 minutes, even the business models.
    • I'm not so sure Canon is innocent. My i550 printer tells me in no uncertain terms that I have to replace the ink cartridge before it will print again, despite having shown no drop in print quality. Like a simp, I do replace the cartridge--the printer rules me.

      Does this mean that in Soviet Russia I rule the printer? Damn capitalism.

      • by cshark ( 673578 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:25AM (#6358782)
        Very interesting. It occurs to me that this could potentially have broader applications in either possible outcome. The thing I can't believe is why Lexmark doesn't just come out and apologize for doing something dumb. Putting chips like this in printer cartridges to begin with is nothing more than a dirty trick. Has anyone heard anything about the anti trust case against Lexmark that was filed by scc? Or was it thrown out?
    • by Godin21 ( 623535 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:29AM (#6358817)
      Except the average consumer doesn't know why they should care. Lexmark printers are cheap and often given away with a new PC. So why not take it? When it comes time to replace the cartridge and realize there is no other option besides the Lexmark ink, they will buy it anyway, because $32 is cheaper than $180 for a new HP printer. And next time they buy a computer, they will accept the free lexmark, complain about the lack of ink cartridge options, and proceed to allow their kids to print off banners of Spongebob Squarepants from The average user doesn't care, and if they do, don't know how to go about changing it. My guess is that the average user is lazy, and would rather spend twice as much on the ink instead of being bothered to educate themselves.
      • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:39AM (#6358918) Homepage Journal
        My guess is that the average user is lazy, and would rather spend twice as much on the ink instead of being bothered to educate themselves.

        Thank you very much. You just revealed the deep, dark secret of the Western Economy. All the work "they" have done to keep it secret and you went and blew the cover.

        Most people are dumb, and want to stay dumb. If you make it easy for them to stay dumb, they will pay you money for it.

        This has the benefit of making sure they never have enough money to move out of the middle class.
        • by srussell ( 39342 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @12:08PM (#6359799) Homepage Journal
          Most people are dumb, and want to stay dumb. If you make it easy for them to stay dumb, they will pay you money for it.

          I agree with you. Really, I do. I had a friend who was fond of adding the addendum that, if you assume that the average person is dumb, then it is implied that about 50% of them are even more stupid than that.

          However: do you know how to repair your car? How about the electrical wiring in your house? Your plumbing? Garbage disposal or washing machine? How about the central air, or the oil heater? If you do, then you're a better woman/man than I. If you don't then you are, by your own logic, dumb. You're paying someone else what are most probably obscene prices to fix something that you could easily fix yourself, if you simply weren't too lazy to go figure it out. A lot of these things aren't rocket science.

          That's me in a nutshell. Some things, I have enough interest in to invest the time to do research and make sure I have enough information to make an informed decision. For everything else, I choose that which is most convenient (within reason). I use telephones a lot, but I'd honestly rather spend the few hours it would take to research a new phone purchase doing something -- almost anything else. Heck, I paid someone to paint my house one summer, and I've painted houses before.

          However, this, in itself, is not sufficient to prove the theory that people are dumb, or even lazy. Myself, I rely on empirical evidence for proof of that.

          • Sometimes it's a matter of economics..
            I can do all of the things you listed and recently I have..
            However when things were good and I was billing 2000 hours a year, it was well worth the cost to pay someone else to do the work. Now that things are slow, I changed out the water heater myself, saved $300 in labor and markup and it's done right. Same goes for fixing the cars, did an inner tierod replacement and power steering pump replacement recently, it would have cost $1000 to have it done by a mechanic, but
        • You just revealed the deep, dark secret of the Western Economy

          And the Eastern economy does not do this? or at the very least prevent the masses of people from increasing their standard of living?

          I agree with what you are saying, but it is hardly a western phenomenon. In fact, I would say it is decidedly an EASTERN phenomenon as controlling social class in an organized fashion really began with the Hindu Caste system in India.

      • I find that some people don't even know that there are options, or what questions to google to get answers.

        I informed a coworker about Firebird (the browser) and how I haven't seen a popup, popunder, or the like for a year. She didn't even know what a browser was.

        Why question? It's just the way things are. Ugh. Four more years... ;)

        If this lawsuit is won by Lexmark, does that mean that Ford can sue to stop 3rd party parts manufacturers?

        • If this lawsuit is won by Lexmark, does that mean that Ford can sue to stop 3rd party parts manufacturers?

          Only if those 3rd party manufactured parts contain copyrighted material, such as computer code, and Ford has not authorized 3rd party use of that material.
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        Here's what I have been seeing.. and the average joe is tired of getting burned by these scumbag companies...

        Consumers are now shopping for printers based on the price of the ink cartridges first.. capabalities second...

        Why get sucked into the $39.00 printer when the cartridges for one year will cost you $300.00?

        Buy the $259.00 canon and spend only $60.00 this year on ink... buy a new printhead every 2 years if you abuse it.. I have a older canon that STILL prints perfectly on it's origional printhead f
      • by drdale ( 677421 )

        My guess is that the average user is lazy, and would rather spend twice as much on the ink instead of being bothered to educate themselves.

        Maybe I am just in a crotchety mood today, but this seems pretty unfair. Just because people don't want to educate themselves on a topic that happens to interest us doesn't make them lazy. We all have multiple demands on our time, and we have to file a lot of things away in the "I have no time to think about this" file in order to have time to think about the things

    • by emil ( 695 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:32AM (#6358840)

      I have avoided owning an inkjet because of the unreasonable consumables costs. I am glad that the EU will be investigating the cartel of printer manufacturers for illegal price fixing.

      If I were to purchase an inkjet, which model can be easily and cheaply refilled, and carries a durable printhead?

      I'd like to buy the ink by the liter, and I'd like the color match of the ink to be reasonably close to the OEM cartriges.

      Also, wasn't Dell going to enter this market and cut the price of the consumables?

    • That's easy to say, but all of us here tend to be on the end that knows something about this stuff, which puts us on the opposite end from the people who make the purchasing descisions. My boss buys stuff from whichever vendor gives him the best toys.
    • by retto ( 668183 )

      as long as Canon and HP et al aren't pulling these type of stunts, won't the market take care of this itself?

      And if Lexmark wins, what would stop the other manufacturers from doing the same thing Lexmark does? When things like the DMCA are created, it can upset the free market. A free market requires free choice if it is to weed out the 'bad' products from the 'good.'

    • by chundo ( 587998 )
      Most consumers (especially home users) aren't aware of this lawsuit. With corporate PR being what it is, sometimes we have to help the market take care of itself.

      Neither I nor my company have purchased Lexmark products since they brought up this ridiculous lawsuit, and I've written them letters to inform them of the fact. If you've made a decision to use other vendors, please let their management know about it. A boycott has no effect if they can blame it on a bad economy in order to stick with their
    • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:39AM (#6358924) Journal
      It would seem that the market would *love* a printer that would use generic commodity ink. Make a few bucks on the printer and let the rest of the industry battle out the ink pricing.

      A while ago, I modified an Epson to use large generic ink from a bottle (500mL each color). The printer dies before the ink ever ran out. Perhaps someone could manufacture a disposable printer? Just fill it with a crazy supply of ink and lock that bad boy up.

      This $50/cartridge thing has to stop sooner or later. Some manufacturer will realize that consumers will *pay* for a quality piece that doesn't institute the Gillete sales model.
      • institute the Gillete sales model

        Good point, I just paid $8 for 4 razor blades 2 days ago and they're pushing the "extra lube strip" model for almost $10 for 4. Now back to the topic ...

        I think of the printer biz like the video game console biz. There's zero margin on the printers and fat margins on the ink. They could chose to make $20 on the printer sale and not play the ink game -or- make $0 on the printer and $20 every 3 months on ink sales. The ink biz is where it's at, and if they can ensure a m
  • Waiter ! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ( 410908 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:17AM (#6358722) Journal
    "Colour HP Cartridge costs £29
    This works out at £1.70 per millilitre
    1985 Dom Perignon costs 23p per millilitre "

    -"We will have 1 bottle of HP Blue 2003 please"
  • by My name isn't Tim ( 684860 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:17AM (#6358723) Homepage
    I used to work for a Printer supplies wholesaler and we had a supplier called MultiLaser that would Chip the Lexmark cartridges to be able to recycle them. Lexmark also had this prebate program where you would get a rebate if you agreed not to sell to recyclers.
  • Completely Legal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:18AM (#6358726)
    Last time I checked there was no monopoly in the printer market. If Lexmark wants to keep it's design proprietary so be it. If Joe Consumer doesn't like it, buy another brand.
    • by rot26 ( 240034 ) * on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:23AM (#6358759) Homepage Journal
      That's a novel way to look at it. Ignore one crime as long as other people are abiding by the law? Maybe you could suggest that GM makes it so their cars look for RFI chips in the OEM tires so that it won't start if you don't buy them from a dealer.
    • Re:Completely Legal (Score:2, Informative)

      by Trigun ( 685027 )
      But if Joe consumer is completely unaware of it, then it is misleading. That would be like only being able to use Canon film in your Canon camera, and to a further extent only GM windshield washer fluid in your buick.

      Last time I checked, there were no statements on the boxes that declared that the printer could not be used with third party cartridges.
    • by Deton8 ( 522248 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:27AM (#6358804)
      The problem is that Joe Consumer visiting his local PC Slut retailer has no way to know what artificial restrictions Lexmark has placed on the ink refills, nor if it lies about when the cartridges are empty, nor if it deliberately rejects non-Lexmark cartridges. There certainly isn't any disclosure on the packaging. Now, I agree with the Libertarian thrust of your comments, but as long as we have consumer protection laws which require disclosure of material facts on the packaging, this ought to be fairly applied across the board. As an exercise for the reader, please propose suggested packaging disclosures for popular PC products such as Windows XP and Office...
      • As an exercise for the reader, please propose suggested packaging disclosures for popular PC products such as Windows XP and Office...
        1. List all known bugs in the version in the box. Any bugs later found to have been known at the time of shipping the product will result in fines to the manufacturer, a portion of which will be distributed among affected users.
        2. List all known bugs in previous versions, along with the date of discovery and the date the patch was issued. If the list is too long to fit on the
      • Now, I agree with the Libertarian thrust of your comments

        I'm no Libertarian but IMHO it's perverse to shrug this off as "it's a free market". A not free market. A free market is where Lexmark gets to sell its printers at the price it likes (below cost or whatever), and if the competition can reverse engineer them cheaper, they get to do so.
      • The problem is that Joe Consumer visiting his local PC Slut retailer has no way to know what artificial restrictions Lexmark has placed on the ink refills

        IMO, anyone buying computer hardware gets what they deserve if they don't take the time to read the plethora or reviews available., for example, points out that while Lexmark printers are among the cheapest, their ink cartridges have the highest cost per page by a considerable margin.

        That turned me off to them right away, and instead I bought
    • by t0ny ( 590331 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:35AM (#6358878)
      Its not about being a monopoly, its about squelching competition. The business model is currently 1) create junky printer, sell for cheap. 2) make tons of profit on the proprietary ink cartridges

      Now you have companies fighting to protect #2, at the expense of the customer. In a free market, if someone can do something better or cheaper (or both), they should be able to win out. But instead, companies are being allowed to litigate away any competition rather than allow market forces to decide.

      • Re:Completely Legal (Score:3, Interesting)

        by invenustus ( 56481 )
        Well said. The EFF doesn't want the government to interfere with how Lexmark does business. They just want the government to STOP interfering with how the cartridge companies do business.

        Libertarians and other supporters of free enterprise should be with the EFF and the cartridge companies on this case.
  • Ink prices... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJZQ8 ( 644168 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:21AM (#6358749) Homepage Journal
    Well there is competition between printer manufacturers, and I imagine that if ink was priced at the cost of production tomorrow (considering perfect competition) then their printer prices would go up. Sure it's expensive, but look at the can buy a printer that would have cost $1000 ten years ago for $80 now. Anyway, since when has the law cared anything about competition? I mean, if it did, then the lawsuits against file sharers would be tossed out instantly. File sharing is the only other means of distribution for most of these songs...
    • Re:Ink prices... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Gabe Garza ( 535203 )
      Anyway, since when has the law cared anything about competition?

      Uh, since 1890, when the US Congress passed the Sherman Antitrust Act?

      I'll definately grant that printer prices (at least for the consumer models) would go up if ink went down. I think the question no-one is asking is: What's so bad about cheap printers and expensive ink? Most of the people I know who buy personal printers don't use them much--ink is a rare purchase. Over the lifetime of the printer, I wouldn't be surprised if the curren

      • The Panasonic Matrix (Score:3, Interesting)

        by poptones ( 653660 )
        Indeed. I still have a Panasonic nine pin dot matrix printer sitting in my shop. It was the first printer I ever bought and, at the time, was all I could afford. It was $195 and exceedingly loud, but it made up for it by being slow and printing... well, it was a 9 pin dot matrix.

        I wouldn't buy a Lexmark printer, but I wouldn't buy one before this lawsuit either because when I hear the name Lexmark I think of cheaply made crap that'll fall apart in six months. My Panasonic printer is close to ten years old

  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:23AM (#6358773) Homepage Journal
    Remember Nintendo vs. Namco? Nintendo sued Namco for putting their copyrighted data sequence into their games so that they would work in the NES. Nintendo won the lawsuit, and this was years before the DMCA came out.
    • Or Ford suing Century batteries for making batteries that could be used in Ford's cars instead of proprietary Ford batteries...

      Oh wait, that one never happened. The difference is important however. Games are not consumables, ink is.
    • Actually, I think that was Tengen, not Namco.

      As I recall, the details of that case were that Nintendo had patented a chip that would allow licensed game cartridges to work in the NES. On the claim that they were going to sue Nintendo, the folks at Tengen had a look at the patent, and figured out how to make a chip that would allow their games to work in the NES without paying for the license. Tengen lost the case because it was not a clean room reverse engineering with virgins and all that, but based on

  • About time! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kyouryuu ( 685884 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:25AM (#6358785) Homepage
    All printer manufacturers do this, especially those that try to reel consumers in with a cheap printer and charge a fortune for the refills.

    The height of absurdity to me is the infamous HP example. On more than one occasion, I've walked into a store and learned that replacing my HP printer altogether was cheaper than buying ink cartridge refills. Compare, $25 for a B&W cartridge + $35 for a color cartridge = $60 total. Cost of that HP DeskJet on sale at Office Depot? $50, and you get an entirely new printer!

    No, this is completely wrong. Standards must be developed. Good, compatible knock-offs must be designed. While there is competition for printers themselves, there is no competition for the ink cartridges. Once a company ropes a customer into their printer, they'll milk them for all its worth.

    • Re:About time! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Yavi ( 538405 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @11:52AM (#6359601)
      I've worked in an office supplies retail environment before, and I've seen a lot of people who think it really is cheaper just to buy a new printer. Unfortunatly, the cartridges that come preinstalled in printers do not have the same volume of ink as the retail packages. Depending on the manufacturer, it was anywhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of the retail ink cartridge's volume.
      • Re:About time! (Score:3, Informative)

        by starman97 ( 29863 )
        Buy a Canon, the ink tanks that ship with the printer are full. They are transparent plastic and you see exactly how much ink is in them.
  • Warning labels (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slusich ( 684826 ) <slusich AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:26AM (#6358787)
    They should be required to label these printers. Otherwise people will continue to buy them without realizing that they will never be able to buy a third party cartrige.
  • I got a Lexmark Z23 *bundled* with my mac awhile back - the carts are regularly $36+. It prints. I'm actually seeing that a color laser printer is *cheaper* than replacing the ink carts. (I can easily go through one in 2-3 days)

    The people who say 'don't buy one' aren't taking bundled units into account.

    I don't see why Lexmark doesn't give up the chip BS and just make the carts so small as to print one page, no matter what. :P

    Any suggestions for good color laser printers with Ethernet that don't bre

  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) * on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:30AM (#6358823) Homepage Journal
    Manufacturers often sell the printer itself at below cost, expecting to make profits on the consumables. Consumables don't have to be just ink and toner. They can also be rollers, fusers, and other parts that are expected to wear out.

    There are so many players in the inkjet printer space that they are sometimes shooting themselves in the foot by going with this model. No manufacturer can offer printers at cost now because nobody would pay $250 for an inkjet. But at the same time, they lose money like crazy on certain types of buyers. Business travelers often buy a cheap printer at their destination rather than pack one. Consumers often get a new printer with each new computer they buy because the added cost in negligible. There are so many used printers out there, that they often cannot be given away.

    The industry itself would benifit from reform in this area. However, to make it happen, all manufacturers will have to charge more for printers and less for cartridges. If even one player sticks with the old model, that player will see all the gains.

    • by Xzzy ( 111297 ) <> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:45AM (#6358978) Homepage
      > However, to make it happen, all manufacturers will
      > have to charge more for printers and less for
      > cartridges. If even one player sticks with the old
      > model, that player will see all the gains.

      Unfortunatley, that's not how the US economy works. The only way to fix this sort problem is to let things get so bad that the companies involved go bankrupt, letting better run companies take thier place.

      Which, incidentialy, is why Lexmark is doing this stunt, to prevent going bankrupt. The profit margin has been cut so low by underselling printers that they can't afford to let people use generic brand cartridges. Even if the population that knows generic brands even exist is one or two percent of the total, that's a significant amount of money the company will lose.

      I think the "reform" will eventually happen naturally, the business model works well for cheap stuff like razorblades but for more expensive items the system is flawed.

      It could be hastened by government regulation, but I'm not sure getting the government involved is neccessarily a good idea.
    • No manufacturer can offer printers at cost now because nobody would pay $250 for an inkjet.

      Funny.. I just paid $350.00 for my canon inkjet.

      and my ink costs about $14.00 for each color. yes EACH color... if I run out of cyan... I plug in a cyan...

      also my printer will kick the crap out of anything hp or lexmark sells in quality and capability...

      Yes there are LOTS of us out here that will pay for a real inkjet printer..
  • printer warnings... (Score:5, Informative)

    by donutz ( 195717 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:36AM (#6358884) Homepage Journal
    slightly off topic, but what the hell, I've got karma to burn.

    I'd recommend against purchasing Epson inkjet printers. The last one we had, a 740i, had its jets clog up beyond repair. no matter how many times I'd run the cleaning function it wouldn't print, and even taking the think apart and trying to soak the print head in alcohol would help.

    Apparently there's posts I found on some newsgroup that recommend at least cleaning/printing from that printer once a week or more...we would only use the printer occasionally.

    So watch out and read those user reviews before you purchase a printer!
    • This is typically true; and, it's one of the reasons companies like HP, Canon, and Lexmark build the print head into the cartridge. With the Epson, as long as you use it regularly, it's usually not a problem.
      I have had a similar problem with a Canon: There's a sponge and a gasket the are supposed to cap off the print head when parked. They were worn and didn't form a good seal; so, a cartridge would only last a week or two before drying out.
  • Wide open market... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tbase ( 666607 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:40AM (#6358926)
    All printer companies seem to use the same business model for consumer printers- sell the printer for practically nothing, and make the money on the cartridges.

    Is it just me, or does it seem like there has to be some meeting of the minds among the manufacturers to keep it that way? I mean, why isn't there some rebel manufacturer making printers that cost 3 or 4 times as much, but take bulk ink/toner that would cost practically nothing?
  • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) <> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:40AM (#6358928) Journal
    Just because the printer market is not monopolized does not mean that this is not unfair competition. Think about it.

    The PRINTER market is not monopolized. However printers and printer INK are two different things. By denying other ink makers the right to compete at all, Lexmark is creating a situation in which only they can sell a product. They are creating a little ink monopoly. This is illegal.

    Now, whether or not the courts will see it that way or not, who the hell knows?
    • It's not a monopoly because there are other vendors producing ink and printers. Yes, you will only be able to use Lexmark ink with Lexmark printers -- caveat emptor. Somehow in my mind I make the comparison to cars: Honda parts work in Hondas but not in a Chevy (without modification to the Chevy). If you want a part to fix your Honda, some of them you can only get from Honda. It's not a direct analogy; but, it's close enough.

  • by DeadSea ( 69598 ) * on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:40AM (#6358931) Homepage Journal
    Because they can often charge so much for ink, it is in the best interest of the printer manufacturers to make sure that you print as much as possbile and use as much ink as possible. Ever wonder why photo software comes with a printer? It takes a lot of ink to print a photo.
    • Built in pages that take a lot of ink to print.
      • Test Page
      • Demo Page
      • Menu Map
      • Configuration Page
      Watch out for full color pages or dark backgrounds.
    • Bundled software that encourages printing
      • Photo Software
      • Presentation Software
      • Publishing Software
    • Per job banner pages enabled by default
    • Composite black (using CMY color toner to make black rather than the cheaper black toner)
  • Blah blah blah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    So many off-topic comments about inkjets. This case is all about TONER cartridges. Toner is used in laser printers--the kind at your office. Ink is used in inkjets--the kind that came with your Walmart PC. There are no chips in Lexmark's inkjet cartridges. What is at issue here are $200 toner cartridges for $3000 printers, not $40 inkjet cartridges for $40 printers. RTFA.
  • It seems to me.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eric(b0mb)Dennis ( 629047 ) * on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:46AM (#6358993)
    That this would just make people buy those blasted ink-refill kits a lot more often than buying a generic cart...

    What's next, prosecuting with the DMCA for sticking a needle into the cart.. "Circumvention"

    Lexmark Exec: We need titanium casings

    Manufacturer: No problem, anything else?

    Lexmark Exec: How about special paper with DRM on it that the printer recognizes and only prints to?

    Manufacturer: Done
    • Actually, one derivation of the Lexmark chip won't allow the cartridge to work once it's reported it's empty. Refilling it doesn't reset the counter on the cartridge -- it still reports it's empty...
  • by real_smiff ( 611054 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:46AM (#6359000)
    I recently replaced an Epson 800 with a Canon i850, and have been very pleased with it. Unlike Epson et all, which use chips or drivers to tell you/guess where the ink level is, Canon printers (possibly uniquely? i don't know) actually have a prism in the bottom of each cartridge, and shine a light through this. depending on whether this is covered with ink or not, from the refraction changes it can deduce how much ink is in there. thus it's actially *looking*, which seems to be the right way to do things... Anyway, i bought a big pack of ink and when they run out i'll be squirting more in with a syringe.. i've done it on someone else's printer and they never complained so i guess it worked :)
    • I have the same printer. The ink level reading doesn't seem to work as advertised. There seems to be only two different levels of ink--full and empty. It won't tell me that I'm halfway or 3/4 way through a cartridge. It will just tell me when I need to replace it. Still better than my old HP. The only way I knew it was out of ink was that the printouts sucked.
  • why when you clean you print heads can't you specify only to clean the heads of one colour - i.e. the one that's blocked. My f'in Canon S900 cost me a small fortune to keep fed with ink as the heads kept on blocking. The whole head now is completely shot (and this happened on the day my warranty ran out). I phoned them up from work to tell them this, they said I had to run a print test, told them I had (obviously) but that wasn't good enough. They wanted me to do it while I was on the phone to them. After a
    • It's no longer under warranty so...

      disassemble the thing and put the print head in some alcohol to soak for a couple of days. Then re-assemble the printer with full ink cartridges, prime it and try printing a test page. This has worked for me once or twice in the past. It's also failed about as often...

      Just a thought before you toss the thing into the trash.

  • by tbase ( 666607 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:47AM (#6359009)
    If you're thinking of buying a new printer because it's cheaper than replacing your cartidges, consider this:
    Forget for a moment what you're doing to the environment (just for a moment, then go sit in the corner and be ashamed of yourself for 5 minutes), those cartidges that come with that cheap printer are "starter" cartridges - even if you can't find the fine print where it says that. So if the ones that came with your printer lasted you 6 months, crack open your wallet and spend the $25-$75 for a new set of cartridges that will probably last you a year or two. It'll save you money in the long run, and you'll be putting a lot less plastic in a landfill somewhere.
  • by wackoman2112 ( 685339 ) <> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @10:48AM (#6359021) Journal

    According to ThisIsLondon [], Ink for home printers are 7 times more expensive [] than vintage champagne.

    They also claim that ignoring low ink warnings can double the life of ink cartridges. I wish I could ignore the warnings, as my Lexmark [] printer forbids me to print once 75% of ink is gone!

    Those greedy pigs!

  • What if there was a company that rented out printers? They ship you one with brand new ink/toner, you use it until it's out, and then ship the printer back. It gets cleaned, serviced and has the consumables replaced, and is then sent on to another customer. If you go for a long-term contract with them, they cross-ship you a replacement printer when you get a low-toner warning.

    Sure, it seems kind of insane, but so does a printer that costs less money than the set of replacement ink cartridges it requires.

  • Here is a great printer that uses large ink tanks. Its fast, sturdy, has excellent color reproduction, and can print on most any paper stock.

    Sure, this printer costs more, but it is built to last. The ink tanks are large, easily serviced and refilled, and can be filled with third party ink. (For best results use OEM ink)

    You can find it here [].


    The 404 'Not Found' is telling, dontchathink?

  • by dcgaber ( 473400 ) on Thursday July 03, 2003 @11:14AM (#6359255)
    Computer & Communications Industry Association [] also filed an amicus brief [] in this case both at the district level and now at the appealate level arguing that this is the exact type of activity allowed under DMCA's exceptions and that SCC is not violating the DMCA. Press release can be found here [].
  • by aixguru1 ( 671173 ) <> on Thursday July 03, 2003 @01:49PM (#6361142) Homepage
    All inkjet printers seem to have the same problems with the price of brand name cardtridges. That is also why there are so many companies making refillables that can "solve" the issue. The problem is the cost of toner cartridges in laser printers. I know roughly how much they go for, and it is expensive. My company has literally thousands of the Optra T series, and folks, it is a good printer for the money. Even with the expense of toner, it is still just as good or better than pricing on comparable HP printers. The lexmark will run you about $3000 for the decked out Optra T, the comparable HP will be around $10,000. Forget about the disposable printer argument and look at the real picture here. The cartridges from Lexmark are about 1/3 more expensive than the remanufactured ones. However, the quality of remanufactured cartridges is not supposed to be as good as the Lexmark cartridges. I have seen both and it does seem that the Lexmark ones are a little better. The whole point is that if you want to buy a office printer and not a home printer, do your research and try a few different ones before making the selection. Otherwise, buy a cheap on sale printer when you need a refill. speaking of which, I need to find cheap cartridges for my HP G48xi...

If imprinted foil seal under cap is broken or missing when purchased, do not use.