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Refilling Ink Cartridges Now a Crime?

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the this-will-fix-our-overcrowded-prisons dept.

Patents 769

Eric Smith writes "The Ninth Circuit has created box-wrap patent licenses. Now the label on the box that says "single use only" is given force of law, and if you refill the cartridge you are liable for patent infringement."

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769 comments

using other containers have same 'crime'? (5, Insightful)

lecithin (745575) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478876)

So can I still fill up used bottled water bottles with my tap water if it is labled '1 liter'?

Re:using other containers have same 'crime'? (2, Funny)

Rorschach1 (174480) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478897)

"So can I still fill up used bottled water bottles with my tap water if it is labled '1 liter'?"

Sure, but don't you dare try to put a quart in there!

Re:using other containers have same 'crime'? (3, Insightful)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478961)

Sure, but what if it is labelled "spring water"? Then if the manufacturer holds any patents on the product (which may or may not be related to the type of water in it), they can claim that your refilling the bottle with tap water infringes their patent because you violated the box-wrap license.

Only a matter of time. (1)

Silverlancer (786390) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478877)

This has existed with software for ages--you cannot dissassemble or do basically anything to the software except what it says you can. It was only a matter of time before this was extended to physical objects.

Re:Only a matter of time. (1)

Gothic_Walrus (692125) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478886)

No it wasn't.

Software and hardware/objects are two entirely separate entities. I really don't see how rules that apply to software would apply to the physical world in "a matter of time."

Re:Only a matter of time. (3, Insightful)

arose (644256) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478980)

Easy, they saw that they can get away with software so they will press along with hardware as far as they can get.

Re:Only a matter of time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478986)

So I guess we can only wait before you can't buy replacement parts for your car that aren't made by Ford/GM/Honda/Etc; reverse engineering physical objects in-order to reduce the maintainance costs associated with a product (printer/car) has existed for decades. I couldn't imagine that any court in North America would actually find that NAPA auto parts was in violation of a patent for producing an alternative product; nor could Joe's garage be found in patent volation for rebuilding your radiator.

Once again, stupid judges produce hypocritical rulings ...

Re:Only a matter of time. (4, Interesting)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479013)

Umm, yes you can, you just cannot distribute it in its new form. Anyway, the one-time-use is fine, you cannot remanufacture their cartridges. But you can refill them, as long as you keep the cartridge in your printer, right? I mean, you're only using the ink once, and you are only using the plastic container once, it's just a very continuous use, as long as you do not let it empty completely.

Re:Only a matter of time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13479046)

"It was only a matter of time before this was extended to physical objects."

Agreed, finally illustrating in a concrete manner to the general public what irresponsible idiocy it was legisltaing it in the software realm.

Re:Only a matter of time. (1)

I_Want_This_ID (678839) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479071)

So does this mean that the business model for all of those places selling used XXX is now destroyed and they might as well pack up shop?

CD resellers
Movie resellers
Video game resellers
Garage sales
Consignment shops
Pawn shops
etc...

Meh... (5, Funny)

Ceirren (849938) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478880)

I mean, who ever listens to those "one use only" instructions? Those condoms can last a long time.

Re:Meh... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478990)

Since you post on Slashdot, the procedure of "using" a condom must be as follows:

Inflate.. fly, condom, fly!.. inflate.. fly, condom, fly!.. inflate..

How exactly is this patent infringment? (3, Interesting)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478881)

"you're suddenly a patent infringer. More importantly, Lexmark can sue cartridge remanufacturers for "inducing" patent infringement by making and selling refills."

How is that patent infringement? Does that cover if I, personally, refill my cartridge at home rather than buying one someone else refilled?

With supply and demand, (1)

usurper_ii (306966) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478985)

it looks like the remanufactures could come up with an alternative printer/cartidge, selling them at much more reasonable prices, and still make a nice profit. Do the other manufactures have a Microsoft-type thing going that keeps other people out of the market, or are their products so good that it makes it too high an entry barrior into the market.

I know a lot of these manufactures make most of their money selling the cartidges...but I actually way the cost of refills into my printer purchases, and if I saw a reasonably priced printer with a reasonable cartridge replacement/refill policy, that is the one I would spend my hard earned money on.

Usurper_ii

Re:With supply and demand, (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479015)

With supply and demand, it looks like the remanufactures could come up with an alternative printer/cartidge,

The problem is that the remanufacturers don't actually remanufacture anything. They just put more ink in the existing cartridges (and reset the "this much ink left" counter in the lexmark cartridges or put tape over one of the pins on the newer HP cartridges).

They don't have any budget for research or developement. Their most substancial cost is probably shipping empty cartridges to their plant for refilling.

Dont forget (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479066)

That the DMCA will fall into play if you merely tell someone how to refill their cart.

And yes, it still covers if you do it at home, in your basement where no one else knows but you and your dog. Patent infringement doesnt require you to profit. ( now catching you, if only you and your dog knows, is another issue. )

Whoa (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478887)

It's a joke, isn't it?

Just perfect... this may stick. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478891)

I'm afraid this one is probably going to stick, too. Remember seeing anything like "It is illegal to use this product inconsistent with its labelling" on those canned air warnings?

Inconsistent usage (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479036)

That are illegal due to other reasons, ( mostly the anti-drug campaign ) not due to some lame 'patent infringement' excuse.

But, yes, in this corporate age it will stick.

We arent allowed to own anything in this 'new world' they are creating.

Re:Just perfect... this may stick. (1)

jd142 (129673) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479049)

I always figured that was an anit-huffing message. Canned air is not "pure air" what ever the heck that means.

You also should try to ignite it or use it to freeze things.

How will anyone know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478896)

I mean, so I do this and then I use the ink and throw away the old cartridge . . . so what?

I mean, even if I am committing a crime, how can they find out? I don't see how this makes any bit of difference one way or the other.

Re:How will anyone know? (2, Insightful)

Paolo DF (849424) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478931)

they'' sue the refill manifacturers, so you won't be able to buy them anymore...

Gotta Love The 9th Court Circuit of Hell... (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478898)

So violating the warrantry is a crime now? I guess the death penalty will be applied for opening a shrink wrap box without reading the EULA inside the box.

In Soviet Russia... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478899)

...ink cartridges refill patent laws!1!

The EFF's view (0)

makomk (752139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478900)

About time - /. was so slow on this one, I was considering posting an article of my own.

Anyway, you can read the EFF's view here [eff.org]

Linked from the article (0, Offtopic)

makomk (752139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478933)

Forget it. Damnit, where's the "unpost" button? Or the "edit post"? Or even the "correct your mistake without hitting the post rate limit" one?

You lose. (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478902)

I feel that if I see a better value in a product, I will tend to buy it. If I can reuse a product, the product has more value. Therefore, if this policy will prevent me from refilling a certain brand of ink cartridge, I will simply buy a different brand.

Getting down to ownership; if I buy something, I guess it's not really mine, eh? Stop me.

Re:You lose. (1, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478938)

"Therefore, if this policy will prevent me from refilling a certain brand of ink cartridge, I will simply buy a different brand."
 
...And when everyone starts doing this?

Re:You lose. (1)

SonicBurst (546373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479018)

If there is a market for it, there will be at least 1 company selling refill-permitted cartridges. Won't be some big company, but someone.

Re:You lose. (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479072)

Then the company that made the original cartridge goes out of business, and the one that allows me to refill stays in business.

Or were you driving at some other point? Like the company that wasn't as popular before changing policies.

Re:You lose. (1)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478946)

unfortunately some big manufacturer(probably HP) will lead the way then the rest will quickly follow when they realise they can get away with it.

Then there won't be anyone marketing reusable cartridges so you won't have any choice.

Re:You lose. (1)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478979)

unfortunately some big manufacturer(probably HP)

HP?? You mean Lexmark? They're already doing it. That's what TFA is already about!

It is shameful to live in a country (0, Offtopic)

Mensa Babe (675349) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478908)

where it is a crime to save the environment. It is sad to realize, though, who is really responsible for that outrageous law: The People, that's who. I am just disgusted.

Re:It is shameful to live in a country (1)

MindDelay (675385) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478955)

"The People"?!?!? come on, this has nothing to do with "The People". this is the doing of large corporations that don't care about the environment and just worry about the cut in their profits from refilling.

forget ink cartridges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478909)

The best way to fight back is to forget about purchasing printers that uses cartridges, use laser printers. Although the initial cost is higher, it is much cheaper in the long run. See the following article for cost figures.

http://www.smallbusinesscomputing.com/testdrive/ar ticle.php/3521141 [smallbusin...puting.com]

Re:forget ink cartridges (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478987)

A LOT of us have 'acquired' printers from various sources. Business and family castoffs, mostly. I, for instance, have 6 current printers, for which I have paid a total of ~$45. I have no intention of buying a new one in the next decade.

1 laser, 4 inkjets, and an Oki LED.

Re:forget ink cartridges (1)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479070)

Umm, Laser printers use Toner cartridges. There are companies that refill these. Heck, there are monks [lasermonks.com] that sell these.

This should create an exciting new market (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478914)

Two uses only.

sad... (1)

tont0r (868535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478916)

yes! and stop recycling too! you refilling that Coke bottle with RC Cola was not its original intent. we want to create as much waste as possible. i see why they wouldnt want you to do this, but come on!. and as for infringment, i cant imagine someone is in a factory with needles pumping ink in, so they arent infringing on that patent of filling in. just another thing in life that is extremely unnecessary.

Hmmm (1)

SamQ (896234) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478925)

I'm interested in learning how the respective cartridge vendors finds out who is refilling their cartridges (and who isn't). I know some of the google printer hacks on "Johnny's site" are good, but not that good

Re:Hmmm (1)

slazzy (864185) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479030)

Purhaps the printer driver software will include spyware that combined with hardware in the printer will report back to them if you refil your cartrige.

The solution here (1)

UndyingShadow (867720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478927)

The solution here, at least until they strip away all private ownership, is to stop buying printers whos costs are subsidized by their ink cartriges. Go out and pay 400 dollars for a laser printer, buy 60 dollar toner carts that last 10 times as long as your 40 dollar ink carts, and be happy.

Re:The solution here (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478970)

And if your printing requirements need colour, for printing on CD/DVD media, or photography...?

Colour laser manufacturers gouge even more than inkjet manufacturers. Sell a printer for $400, buy replacement cartridges for $800...

N.

Re:The solution here (1)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478973)

You don't even need to shell out $400 for a laser printer. There are personal lasers for as little as $70. I haven't even used up the starter toner on it yet and I've had it for 6 months.

Re:The solution here (1)

heypete (60671) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479010)

Indeed, and one can buy easily-replaceable toner (which is much easier to replace than refilling ink cartridges) from various stores, eBay, or even buy remanufactured cartridges from local stores.

I have the starter cart, a second cart, and enough toner to refill those two for up to 20,000 pages worth. I'm pretty much set until the laser printer explodes.

So much for the "doctrine of first sale" (5, Interesting)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478935)

The doctrine of first sale normally means that the first unrestricted sale of a particular device embodying a patent "exhausts" the patent-holders control over the use of the patent in that particular device. In other words, once you buy a DVD that the manufacturer has licensed for the MPEG patents, the MPEG patent holders can't later tell you that you are not allowed to use the DVD player to watch MPEG content on Thursdays, or that you're not allowed to resell the player.

Apparently the Ninth Circuit thinks that the labelling "single use only" on the box is a legally binding contract, and thus the sale of the product to a consumer is not an "unrestricted sale".

If this is upheld, we can expect that soon all patent holders will be asserting all sorts of control over consumer products that they currently cannot. For instance, when you buy a new cell phone, it might have a label on the box stating that it is only for use with headsets from the same manufacturer. Up until now they've only been able to try to lock you in by putting a proprietary connector on the phone, and that only works until other manufacturers start producing headsets or adapters with that connector, but under the box-wrap precedent they may be able to use force of law to keep you from using an Ericsson headset with a Nokia phone.

Mattress Tags Anyone? (2, Funny)

Nutsquasher (543657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478937)

Sounds like we're going back to the days of "It's a crime to remove this tag off of your mattress."

Re:Mattress Tags Anyone? (1, Troll)

sljgh (742290) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479039)

You're an idiot. Those tags cannot be removed before the sale by retailers because they contain information about what materials are in the mattress that consumers have a right to know about. Once you buy them you can do anything you want. That is an example of a GOOD label. Moron.

Re:Mattress Tags Anyone? (4, Informative)

Trick (3648) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479064)

Those tags are still there, and it was never illegal for the consumer to remove them. It was illegal for the retailer to do it, because they contained information that might be important to the consumer.

In other words, the "do not remove under penalty of law" on furniture tags were there for the protection of the consumer; shrink-wrap licenses and this variant are all about limiting the rights of the consumer.

Here we go again... (4, Interesting)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478945)

Ah, Lexmark is at it again... Gotta love that company - maybe next they'll just send out beefy guys with baseball bats to break the kneecaps of anyone who sells refilled cartridges...

I'll never buy their products anyway, and I'll make sure that everyone I know is well-informed about their business practises...

N.

Shooting ones foot (1)

Mercedes308 (832423) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478947)

As long as the competition don't follow suit then this decision by Lexmark might turn out to be beneficial to the likes of HP and so on.

Yeah yeah yeah (5, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478948)

Conservatives have been screaming for about a decade about hot the 9th circuit is insane.

Now that one of their decisions will effect soccer moms and art students, maybe something will be done about it.

LK

This is just crazy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478954)

And another one for the *garbage* America...

Yes... dump everything to the trash can... mayhappen one day you will wake on a dumpster... and realize yes... grabage is good!

(In EU, this "law" - if it was applicable - is per-si not valid, because it incentives the use of new items instead of recycling)

(In the USA, this "law" is very dubious one, because when you buy a thing you own a thing.)

Read the opinion please. (5, Informative)

Phosphor3k (542747) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478958)

It's not as cut and dry as the story title and summary implies.

Lexmark discounts certain cartridges with the understanding that the user will return the spent cartridges to Lexmark. Lexmark recycles the cartridges and sells them again. Lexmark got their panties in a bunch because another company was taking their prebated cartridges and recycling them, causing Lexmark to lose money. Lexmark isn't being quite as evil as they are made out to be, in this case.

That being said, Lexmark makes my pants sad.

Re:Read the opinion please. (2, Insightful)

bigdavex (155746) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479041)


It's not as cut and dry as the story title and summary implies.

Lexmark discounts certain cartridges with the understanding that the user will return the spent cartridges to Lexmark.

Maybe they should stop doing that.

Lexmark recycles the cartridges and sells them again. Lexmark got their panties in a bunch because another company was taking their prebated cartridges and recycling them, causing Lexmark to lose money.

If the business model isn't working, Lexmark doesn't necessarily have a legal recourse.

Re:Read the opinion please. (2, Insightful)

makomk (752139) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479053)

Lexmark discounts certain cartridges with the understanding that the user will return the spent cartridges to Lexmark. Lexmark recycles the cartridges and sells them again. Lexmark got their panties in a bunch because another company was taking their prebated cartridges and recycling them, causing Lexmark to lose money. Lexmark isn't being quite as evil as they are made out to be, in this case.

And why can't they achieve this by posting you a discount coupon (off the cost of a new cartridge) for every returned empty cartridge? Hell, it'd actually give people a real financial incentive to actually return the cartridges, unlike the current scheme (which relies on people being honest/gullible). As it is, I bet half the people never return the cartridge.

Re:Read the opinion please. (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479057)

That may be Lexmark's "understanding", but it's not mine, and until now it didn't have the force of law. In the past, if they wanted to make sure I returned the spent cartridge to them, they would have had to get me to sign a contract.

This ruling is a great victory for the people that want government protection for otherwise nonsensical business models, and (as usual) consumers get screwed royally.

Re:Read the opinion please. (2, Informative)

El Cubano (631386) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479074)

Lexmark discounts certain cartridges with the understanding that the user will return the spent cartridges to Lexmark. Lexmark recycles the cartridges and sells them again. Lexmark got their panties in a bunch because another company was taking their prebated cartridges and recycling them, causing Lexmark to lose money. Lexmark isn't being quite as evil as they are made out to be, in this case.

Lexmark should take a lesson from the auto parts industry. If I have the water pump on my car die and want to replace it myslef, my choices are:

  • Pay "full" price
  • Pay "full" price and get a "rebate" on return of the faulty part (which the shop rebuilds or sells whosale to remanufacturer)
  • Pay "discounted" price and turn in faulty part at time of sale

Surprisingly enough there is no option called "Pay discounted price and take it on faith the customer will later return the faulty part." People are lazy/stingy. If there is no monetary incentive to actually do something, they won't.

CVS 'disposable' digital cameras and camcorders (2, Interesting)

Nilatir (179045) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478960)

I assume this will effect the hacked disposable digital cameras and camcorders?

Re:CVS 'disposable' digital cameras and camcorders (1)

zbuffered (125292) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479055)

No, because nobody will be caught, unlike the current situation where there is a corporate presence for Lexmark to sue.

Forced to go to a dealer (1, Interesting)

MonGuSE (798397) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478972)

So basically at some point in time we can expect the car dealerships to enforce a policy that you are only allowed to use Ford brand oil in your car? Or that only they can change the oil for $75 a pop? or that you are only allowed to use manufacturer certified parts which may or may not be marked up 100%? Things are just continuing to go down hill and with George Bush being allowed to put another justice on the Supreme Court we're as good as screwed untill the next presidential elections.

/. needs a new "property rights erosion" section. (2)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478976)

with this article and the one shortly before it on the BD rom crap, I think slashdot needs a new section on "property rights erosion" or a better title "the corporations own YOU dept".

I OWN the cartridge, not RENT / LEASE it (3, Insightful)

SpecialAgentXXX (623692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478978)

If the cartridge was not my property, I could understand this ruling. It's their property and I'm only borrowing it. However, in this case, It's my property. If I choose to transfer a liquid that I own from a container that I own into another container that I own, that's nobody's business but mine. But if I destroy my printer because my refilled cartridge is not "up to specs," then it's also my fault.

Isn't this a monopolistic or ogopolistic practice which is suppose to be illegal? Isn't this ruining competition by putting up artificial barriers-of-entry for the printing cartridge market? If some smart company decides to make ink refills, that increases competition which provides us end-user consumers more choices, better quality, and lower prices.

Bah, I've already lost all hope for the U.S. from top to bottom. Watch the re-release of THX-1138. That's what we've become. "Buy, consume, buy more, consume more, take your drugs, beware of an interval-overdose."

Re:I OWN the cartridge, not RENT / LEASE it (4, Insightful)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479033)

However, in this case, It's my property.

It's your lump of plastic and assorted trace metals. However, it's their patented technology which you need a licence to use legally.

You know, there was once a time when most people owned very little. The average European owned no land; instead he rented patches of land from the local lord, and paid most of his produce to that lord in rent.

We're heading back that way now. It's not land any more, no, it's intellectual property. The way things are going we geeks won't be free to invent as we always have done any more; we'll have to pay massive dues to our feudal overlords who own patents on everything.

The best thing is, the libertarians won't care. It's not the government that's pissing all over us, it's private enterprise. And that makes all the difference, doesn't it?

Re:I OWN the cartridge, not RENT / LEASE it (1)

SpecialAgentXXX (623692) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479060)

Actually, we libertarians do care. It is the government pissing all over us via the rulings. Corporations have since the beginning of time been trying to do implement monopolistic practices. That's the nature of capitalism - maximize profits. The role of government is to ensure that everyone is playing fairly and to protect us, the consumer, from predatory actions which stifles innovation. Hey, I'm all for corporations making bazillion of dollars - as long as it was fair. No monopoly or ogopoloy.

Re:I OWN the cartridge, not RENT / LEASE it (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479045)

You only purchased "a right to use it" not actually own the device. Its similiar to any appliance, audio cd, and software packages you may have purchased (right to use).

Its all in the EULA.

I'm curious... (3, Insightful)

Spad (470073) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478981)

How exactly does refilling a cartridge infringe on Lexmark's patents? Do they have a patent on refilling ink cartridges? Perhaps they have a patent on "Saving money by not paying exorbitant fees to Lexmark every time your ink runs low"?

The 9th Circuit could have just been honest and said that "refilling ink cartridges infringes on Lexmark's right to make money off you and we clearly can't have that now, can we".

Informed Citizens (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478983)

Listen, citizens - in case this somehow escaped you - anything that deprives private business from accruing money is and should be criminalized. This includes sharing books, sharing information, discussing movies or letting someone else listen to your radio or watch your television.

Any of you who behave in opposition to this way of thinking are terrorists and clearly hate America. You are either with us (corporate America) or you're against us. You evil doers will not do us.. uh.. out. There's a saying back where I come from. Take a man's fish and give him... er... uh.. . Give a man your banana and reap his fis... er.. .wait no... feed a man a melon and take his bananas...

Good night and God bless.

Upside down world... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13478984)

Why do corporations feel that they are entitled to profits and cozy government protection instead of having to compete in the marketplace?

I consider this a version of welfare.

Alternatives (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478991)

You know, when you can buy a low end color laser printer for around 600 dollars, whose toner lasts much longer than the inks in inkjet printers, it's a wonder people aren't looking for alternatives. Laser is faster, and soon to be cheaper!

Still, why not buy the ink carts that are meant to be refilled? They are easy to find for all major printer brands, although they do allegedly void your warranty. I wonder why somebody doesn't sell their own refillable ink carts with their printers. You get both benefits: a warranty, and cheaper ink.

From TFA: (1)

BOOTSTRAPS (696869) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478993)

Will patent owners exploit this decision as an opportunity to impose over-reaching restrictions on formerly permitted post-sale uses, repairs, modifications, and resale? Will consumers soon confront "single use only, not for resale" notices on more and more products? Will innovators stumble over labels announcing "modifications prohibited"?

Obviously, we can't know yet. But the danger is there.
---

So, in actuality, we dont really know if the companies/corporations in the printer/ink business are going to attempt to use this to go after people. Additionally, how would they enforce this? I dont think they're going to be looking for the individual joe blows who refill their own ink cartridges on this...so who/what is the real target with this new law? It seems to me like this is more of an attempt by the editors to get /.'ers rabbling over something that may or may not ever have an impact on them than anything else? Rather than getting all upset and rabbling about it, how about we look at the bigger picture of what is going on around here...what is the real effect this is going to have on us?

They'll get my catridge refiller when... (2, Funny)

wiredlogic (135348) | more than 8 years ago | (#13478999)

They'll get my catridge refiller when they pry it from my cold dead hands.

Preemptive Troll Strike (1)

fontkick (788075) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479002)

From the ruling:

"The Prebate cartridge package sets forth the following license agreement on the outside of the package: RETURN EMPTY CARTRIDGE TO LEXMARK FOR REMANUFACTURING AND RECYCLING Please read before opening. Opening of this package or using the patented cartridge inside confirms your acceptance of the following license agreement. The patented cartridge is sold at a special price subject to a restriction that it may be used only once. Following this initial use, you agree to return the empty cartridge only to Lexmark for remanufacturing and recycling. If you don't accept these terms, return the unopened package to your point of purchase. A regular price cartridge without these terms is available. Consumers can opt to buy Lexmark cartridges without the Prebate post-sale restriction, but at the higher price..."

There is a special agreement between Lexmark and the consumer to purchase at a lower price, and in order to get that price, you need to send the cartridge back to Lexmark. Also, Lexmark was sued by ACRA, the Arizona Cartridge Remanufacturers Association, who thought this was unfair.

Personally I think it's a perfectly valid agreement and if I could save $30 on a $100 toner cartridge, I'd do it. Basically, Lexmark is reducing the price of their cartridges to match the sleazeball toner remanufacturers. Have you ever gotten a call from a pushing inkjet/toner salesman? Those guys are some of the worst conmen alive.

Message to Lexmark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13479006)

I have one of your printers myself. I won't buy any more cartridges for it. I won't buy another Lexmark printer. I will actively recommend that our clients do not purchase any Lexmark products. That amounts to a hundred printers or so per year and the supplies to go with them. I will actively mention to retailers that carry your products why I will not purchase them. Is that clear enough for you. It's the least I can do.

If enough of us do the same, perhaps you'll get the picture. By the way, your printer isn't as good as those from HP.

Printer License (1)

HugePedlar (900427) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479014)

My company leases a photocopier. The machine, toner, drum and servicing are provided "free", but we pay a nominal fee per copy.

I wouldn't be surprised if home users were forced into a similar agreement by printer manufacturers, except without the "free" machine, consumables and service. All backed up by Internet verification for our convenience, of course.

Quick! Draw the Curtains! (1)

chemacguevara (896855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479016)

Honey!, pull down the blinds. I gotta fill the ink cartridges and there's a suspicious car out front...it might be the cops!

RTFA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13479025)

Comment from the "talkback" section of the article:

James on September 4, 2005 02:24 PM writes...

Those of you who are excoriating Lexmark and the Ninth Circuit have apparently NOT read the decision. (Isn't it a prerequisite to informed debate that you actually INFORM yourself before criticizing?)

The Ninth Circuit's opinion concerns Lexmark's "Prebate" program, in which customers are given a $30 discount on their printer cartridge in exchange for their agreement to return the used cartridge to Lexmark when they are done with it. That's an enforceable contract, plain and simple. Customers had the option of paying $30 more for a cartridge, without being obligated to send it back to Lexmark when they were finished with it.

The Ninth Circuit simply held that, in exchange for paying less for the cartridge, customers could be contractually bound to return it to Lexmark.

Now that you understand, tell me: is that so evil?

You folks might want to educate yourself on the concept of "freedom to contract."

recycle back to Lexmark? (1)

themushroom (197365) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479027)

Okay, this raises a question... If Lexmark only wants you to use your cartridge once, not refill, will they be doing the responsible thing and providing drop-off/return facilities so that Lexmark can get its cartridges back and refill them themselves (then charge the consumer full price again)?

The concept sucks at some levels (paying full price for refills) but yet the landfills will be happy and Lexmark will only look partially like bastards. Presently plenty of third-party recyclers exist, but by the one-use law they'd be put out of business.

Obviously not a crime (2, Insightful)

Kohath (38547) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479035)

No one has said it's a crime to refill your printer cartridges. At most, it's a breech of contract between you and Lexmark.

If you read the court opinion, you'll see that the cartridges won't work unless Lexmark refills them because there's a lockout chip. So breeching this particular contract is going to be difficult anyway.

Lexmark is guilty of no more than offering their customers a bad deal.

Buy a laser printer instead.

collision ahead... (1)

moviepig.com (745183) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479040)

...the label on the [printer cartridge] that says "single use only" is given force of law...

Seems the same principle could be applied to selling movies on dvd, e.g., with a label that says, "5 playings only."

Sure, that would conflict with existing right-of-first-sale protections. But... remember the days when you used to own, say, your empty printer-cartridges?

If that's what the law says, all I have to say is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13479042)

It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right. The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right. ... It costs me less in every sense to incur the penalty of disobedience to the State than it would to obey. I should feel as if I were worth less in that case.
--Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

Remove Lexmark from CUPS (3, Interesting)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479043)

I think it's time to remove Lexmark from CUPS. It's clear they don't want to play nicely anymore, so I think it's only fair that from now on the Linux community will no longer support their printers. I know this is only a token gesture, and will likely not hurt their bottom line, but I think we need to make it clear that this sort of behavior is not appreciated and should have consequences.

Some Sense (2, Insightful)

Warthog9 (100768) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479044)

Ok, here's some common sense that maybe even the courts will have to listen to. When you buy something, a physical product, like an XBox it is now your property. There may be patents covering the devices inside the device, there may be copyrights, trademarks, etc. but at the end of the day it's my hunk of atoms NOT the original companies. No amount of shrink wrap licensing binds me to do what I want with it. However if I do something thats not within what the manufacturer wants me to be doing with it they are welcome to cancel my warranty, and refuse to take liability for say me running 6 million volts of electricity through a paperclip, but thats just my perogative, they can't stop me from doing that. So thats where it all stands in terms of that.

the 9th circuit court in the case has ruled differently than what the article header here implies. Go, read it.

Whatever happened to the basic theory of purchase? (2, Insightful)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479048)

It should be simple. You buy it, you own it. Period. If you that means you want to smash it in with a sledgehammer, go right ahead. It's yours! If you want to mess around with the electronics inside, go right ahead. If you want to add liquid to it, whether it's supposed to be there or not, no one can stop you.

Whatever happened to the sensible days? How is this supposed to be enforced anyway? Does this give the ink cartridge company the right to spy on me in my own home so as to make sure I'm not *gasp* refilling their cartridges?!

Greenfund Network (1)

fbg111 (529550) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479068)

I maintain the website for a non-profit scholarship foundation that runs a lean operation. One of their money-raising initiatives is to collect depleted printer cartridges and exchange them with Greenfund [greenfundnetwork.com] for cash. I guess Greenfund will be out of business now (except for the cell-phone part of their endeavors), and my scholarship organization will have to find another source of $$. Bake sales and car washes, here we come. Not to mention the fact that preventing the recycling of cartridges and other recyclelables [greenfundnetwork.com] means bigger landfills and more wasted resources.

Software?? (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#13479069)

Imagine it. Pay-per-boot Windows. Now you have no excuse not to pay for it if you want to use it. Why pay $500 now when you can pay $5 per reboot? Lets take it a bit furthur down the slippery slope. "You may only use Sony products on your PS4. If you use anything else, you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This includes cables, TVs, a desk stand, sound systems, accessories, software, hardware, and anything else that might be used in conjuction with your Playstation 4. This is to ensure that you have no problems and are satisfied with your product."

N/A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13479075)

According to the Ninth Circuit ruling [PDF] this week in ACRA v. Lexmark, opening the package means you agree to Lexmark's wishes.

So it's not a crime if my wife opens the package, use the cartridge, then give it to me, so that I can have it refilled and use it on my printer.
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