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Printer The Courts Businesses Patents The Almighty Buck

Why You Should Care About the Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges (consumerist.com) 227

rmdingler quotes a report from Consumerist: A corporate squabble over printer toner cartridges doesn't sound particularly glamorous, and the phrase "patent exhaustion" is probably already causing your eyes to glaze over. However, these otherwise boring topics are the crux of a Supreme Court case that will answer a question with far-reaching impact for all consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it? The case in question is Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark International, Inc, came before the nation's highest court on Tuesday. Here's the background: Lexmark makes printers. Printers need toner in order to print, and Lexmark also happens to sell toner. Then there's Impression Products, a third-party company makes and refills toner cartridges for use in printers, including Lexmark's. Lexmark, however, doesn't want that; if you use third-party toner cartridges, that's money that Lexmark doesn't make. So it sued, which brings us to the legal chain that ended up at the Supreme Court. In an effort to keep others from getting a piece of that sweet toner revenue, Lexmark turned to its patents: The company began selling printer cartridges with a notice on the package forbidding reuse or transfer to third parties. Then, when a third-party -- like Impression -- came around reselling or recycling the cartridges, Lexmark could accuse them of patent infringement. So far the courts have sided with Lexmark, ruling that Impression was using Lexmark's patented technology in an unauthorized way. The Supreme Court is Impression's last avenue of appeal. The question before the Supreme Court isn't one of "can Lexmark patent this?" Because Lexmark can, and has. The question is, rather: Can patent exhaustion still be a thing, or does the original manufacturer get to keep having the final say in what you and others can do with the product? Kate Cox notes via Consumerist that the Supreme Court ruling is still likely months away. However, she has provided a link to the transcript of this week's oral arguments (PDF) in her report and has dissected it to see which way the justices are leaning on the issue.
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Why You Should Care About the Supreme Court Case On Toner Cartridges

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  • If I had my way... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by YukariHirai ( 2674609 ) on Friday March 24, 2017 @11:44PM (#54106829)
    If I had my way, you could patent whatever you like about the device, but third-party options for consumables must be available and their use not deliberately prevented or impaired by the device.
    • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:21AM (#54106971)
      If I had my way, you could patent whatever you like about the device. But the moment you sell the device to someone they can do whatever they damn well want with it. As with copyright, the only thing patent protection should prevent is me from distributing copies of the device without the patent holder's permission. If I want to fill the cartridge with oatmeal and put it in my printer, it should be my right to do so by the First Sale doctrine [wikipedia.org] (aka the exhaustion rule mentioned in summary).

      If the patent holder wishes to claim they still control the printer and cartridge, then they didn't sell it to me. They rented it to me. And like a landlord who is responsible for repairing things that break down in a rented apartment, they are responsible for fixing the printer if it breaks for as long as they claim they control the cartridge. i.e. If they claim the control the cartridge forever, then that is the same thing as saying the printer has a transferable lifetime warranty.
      • by Roger Wilcox ( 776904 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:33AM (#54107005)

        This is the only sane way to look at the issue. I paid you for product X; now it's mine. I do with it as I please.

        I want to pay someone to modify it? That's my right. It's mine now, remember?

        • This is the only sane way to look at the issue. I paid you for product X; now it's mine. I do with it as I please.

          I want to pay someone to modify it? That's my right. It's mine now, remember?

          But... but... Think of the shareholders... If the company can't turn everything they do into a rental business, how are they going to make their quarterly profit numbers to satisfy the market and allow the Execs to keep getting their bonuses... If they can protect this business by using and corrupting the legal system, all the better...

          • by cob666 ( 656740 )

            But... but... Think of the shareholders... If the company can't turn everything they do into a rental business, how are they going to make their quarterly profit numbers to satisfy the market and allow the Execs to keep getting their bonuses... If they can protect this business by using and corrupting the legal system, all the better...

            Seems like many (if not all) companies no longer care about the long term stability of their company. They have all become so obsessed with short term profits that you have to wonder if any of them care at all about the 'big picture'?

          • But... but... Think of the shareholders... If the company can't turn everything they do into a rental business, how are they going to make their quarterly profit numbers to satisfy the market and allow the Execs to keep getting their bonuses... If they can protect this business by using and corrupting the legal system, all the better...

            It is Lexmark's business model. They sell dirt-cheap printers, probably lose money on them, and intend to make up for that on their toner sales. It's kind of attractive to a company because it makes for steadier cash flow. I suspect that if Lexmark loses, you can expect a big jump in the price of the original printers.

            The big flaw in this system is twofold - first is the issue we are talking about here, and the second is if you are going to be charging rock-bottom prices, you'll be attracting the cheape

            • Oh no they'll have to make better printers, how terrible for the consumer ...

            • Except a huge chunk of consumers simply throw the printer in the garbage and buy a new one creating a truly INSANE amount of e-waste, which is why this business model needs to be destroyed.

              I used to live in a large apartment complex and every month when the time for putting out electronics came around? There would be a fricking mountain of cheap printers piled up every single month. The reason why is obvious, the printer costs $30 new and the ink costs $50 so why buy new ink carts when you can just get anot

        • I'd expand it even further to all IP. For example:
          If I can personally record a tv show and edit out the commercials, then surely I should be able have others do that for me.
          It should also be the IP owner's responsibility to prove whether or not I have legitimate access to said content, i.e. a cable/sat/whatever-streaming-service subscription. OTA would be free for all.
      • by rossz ( 67331 )

        I'd seriously like to see the courts side with consumers and insist Lexmar must refill the cartridge for free as long as I own the printer. Let's see how fast the printer companies back off from their outrageous claims.

        All of the printer companies have a history of abusing the legal system. Lexmar just happens to the worse offender.

        • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @05:16AM (#54107487) Journal
          It's not the courts that need to side with us, it's the legislators. We need them to agree to the principle of customer rights as GP outlined them. Good laws will follow from that, and good rulings from judges after. Merely hoping for judges to rule in our favour according to the few disjoint customer protection laws we have is not going to help; current laws are already stacked in favour of the likes of Lexmark.
          • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday March 25, 2017 @07:18AM (#54107629) Homepage

            It's not the courts that need to side with us, it's the legislators.

            Bingo. Lot of people seem to forget that this has happened in the past with cars. All the automakers got together and decided that they'd push the 3rd party auto part makers into the dirt and you could only buy your parts directly from them. Laws got made because of that, and now auto companies must allow those manufactures to make parts right away. And by law, those same auto companies must manufacture all components of the vehicle for 10 years.

            • Laws got made because of that, and now auto companies must allow those manufactures to make parts right away.

              That is a great benefit, but the fight there is not yet over. What's needed now is to make illegal any agreements that the suppliers who actually make these parts won't be able to sell them to consumers directly right away. It's not until that happens that it really becomes affordable to maintain a vehicle, and so there's a period in between the end of the warranty and the time when the suppliers start selling their parts into the non-dealer channels where it's prohibitively expensive to maintain vehicles.

          • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @08:20AM (#54107741) Journal

            > It's not the courts that need to side with us, it's the legislators.

            Exactly. Writing law is the job of elected legislators. A ln appointed judge's job is to read and understand the law in order to apply it to a particular case.

            The current law on patents, written by legislators, is that a patent controls who can "make, sell, or use" the patented invention. The "sell or use" part needs to be fixed. Judges shouldn't just ignore the law as written whenever they unilaterally decide they don't like the law.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          All of the printer companies have a history of abusing the legal system. Lexmar just happens to the worse offender.

          Really? I'm aware of Lexmark's abuse. HP abuses users in more subtle ways, but not through the legal system. I'm not aware of anything even remotely similar from Brother, Konica Minolta, or Canon, all of which IMO make much better printers than Lexmark and HP.

          Frankly, I don't even understand how Lexmark is still in business.

      • by ProzacPatient ( 915544 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @07:49AM (#54107683)

        North Carolina shares your view [slashdot.org] (NCGS 75-36 [ncleg.net]) and has done so since 2003.

        In fact it was Lexmark's business practices that prompted the General Assembly to enact this law, so you know it's gotta be bad when even politicians enact a law aimed directly against the interest of a big company with big pockets.

        Unfortunately I fear a SCOTUS ruling might invalidate, or otherwise be used against, state law on this matter.

      • If the patent holder wishes to claim they still control the printer and cartridge, then they didn't sell it to me. They rented it to me. And like a landlord who is responsible for repairing things that break down in a rented apartment, they are responsible for fixing the printer if it breaks for as long as they claim they control the cartridge. i.e. If they claim the control the cartridge forever, then that is the same thing as saying the printer has a transferable lifetime warranty.

        I would argue they are also responsible for the proper disposal once it has reached EOL. I'm sure they'd love getting boxes of printers, manuals, DVDs, styrofoam and cartridges (although some do recycle to avoid then getting into the secondary market) back to dispose of once they are no longer making the product. Or that licensed software in the TV that you sent back.

      • If I had my way, you could patent whatever you like about the device. But the moment you sell the device to someone they can do whatever they damn well want with it.

        Exactly.

        I'll do whatever I want with the things I buy regardless of any laws or patents that say I can't. I buy it, it's mine, end of story.

  • Fait Acompli? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 24, 2017 @11:48PM (#54106835)

    The question before the Supreme Court isn't one of "can Lexmark patent this?" Because Lexmark can, and has.

    Excuse me? What have they patented exactly? A sticker saying "Do not remove"? Some software on the chip? And this invalidates my rights to buy, install, or use aftermarket parts or services because..... of.... what clause in patent law exactly?

    Is the author high, or trying to sneak in support for an invalid patent, or just plain confused? Patents affect who can make a product. Not the sale or use of the item after the initial manufactures sale. What clusterfuck corrosion of the rule of law have the patent lawyers hoisted on the body politic this time?

    • Re:Fait Acompli? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:06AM (#54106903)

      ...What clusterfuck corrosion of the rule of law have the patent lawyers hoisted on the body politic this time?

      "Rule of law"? Have you been living in a cave? Rule of law has been on the endangered species list for quite some time, and its prospects of survival are becoming more dire by the second. Corporations have been quite successful in their overt efforts make the rule of law follow the dodo into extinction.

      Nobody should be surprised by this kind of shit any more; the only surprise is that there seems to be no sign of the bloody revolution that usually follows such ongoing abuse by the rich and powerful. I guess they've perfected bread and circuses, (and public education), to the point where average people no longer care, or even realize, that they've been sold down the river into slavery.

      • Re:Fait Acompli? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:29AM (#54106989) Homepage Journal

        Nobody should be surprised by this kind of shit any more; the only surprise is that there seems to be no sign of the bloody revolution that usually follows such ongoing abuse by the rich and powerful.

        A revolution never come with a warning [azlyrics.com]
        A revolution never sends you an omen
        A revolution just arrived like the morning
        Ring the alarm we come to wake up the snoring

    • You should be on the Supreme Court.
    • Excuse me? What have they patented exactly? A sticker saying "Do not remove"? Some software on the chip? And this invalidates my rights to buy, install, or use aftermarket parts or services because..... of.... what clause in patent law exactly?

      Lexmark patented the design of the toner cartridges for their printers. Their argument is based on the premise that the long-standing "First Sale" doctrine doesn't apply, and that their patent rights extend to any subsequent use of their patented product, so that Impression Products' refurbishing and refilling, and subsequent sale of, expended Lexmark toner cartridges constitutes infringement of their patent. If SCOTUS rules in their favor, it would put a severe damper on, if not kill outright, the ability

      • I don't see many people continuing to use the same printer for more than fourteen years.

        I'm still using a Laserjet 2300 which is from April 2003 [fixyourownprinter.com], you insensitive clod! I need to replace the pickup rollers again...

        • Re:Fait Acompli? (Score:4, Informative)

          by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:54AM (#54107063) Journal

          Hah, got you beat - still using my LaserJet 6P from the mid-90s. Prints great, toner cartridge is an easy refill, and has a low power standby (unusual for the era). Absolutely problem free, unlike the dozen inkjets I've had in the same timeframe, and the only issue is that some postscript printouts take minutes per page. Why would I bother replacing it?

          • by AaronW ( 33736 )

            I'm still using my 4M Plus PS 600. I just ordered a new kit to replace the rollers today. It still works great with Linux. I have the large capacity tray and the duplex unit as well.

          • " unlike the dozen inkjets I've had in the same timeframe..."

            And because what you used those dozen inkjets for was making the occasional photo print, you can now get better prints from a service like Snapfish, and for less than the price of the cartridges that on most occasions dried out and clotted before you could finish them.

      • Re:Fait Acompli? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday March 25, 2017 @01:43AM (#54107137)

        Their argument is based on the premise that the long-standing "First Sale" doctrine doesn't apply, and that their patent rights extend to any subsequent use of their patented product

        ...which is fucking absurd on its face! After all, do people have the fundamental right to own property or not?

        And that is the real issue here: with the DMCA, and now with patents, these fuckers are trying to create some sort of bizarro-world where Imaginary Property is not only no longer imaginary, but somehow actually superior to the right to own actual property! They want to enslave us into perpetually renting everything we use, which is no less a tyranny than being paid in scrip and being forced to buy from the company store, or being a serf indentured to the land. It is nothing less than digital Feudalism, and must be stopped at all costs!

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          And that is the real issue here: with the DMCA, and now with patents, these fuckers are trying to create some sort of bizarro-world where Imaginary Property is not only no longer imaginary, but somehow actually superior to the right to own actual property!

          You say that as if this is something entirely new. Welcome to 1873:

          Unlike the analogous first-sale doctrine in copyright, the patent exhaustion doctrine has not been codified into the patent statute, and is thus still a common law doctrine. It was first explicitly recognized by the Supreme Court in 1873 in Adams v. Burke. In that case, the patentee Adams assigned to another the right to make, use, and sell patented coffin lids only within a ten-mile radius of Boston. Burke (an undertaker), a customer of the assignee, bought the coffin lids from the manufacturer-assignee within the ten-mile radius, but later used (and effectively resold) the patented coffin lids outside of the ten-mile radius, in his trade in the course of burying a person.

          Here's copyright in 1908:

          The [first sale] doctrine was first recognized by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1908 (...). In the Bobbs-Merrill case, the publisher, Bobbs-Merrill, had inserted a notice in its books that any retail sale at a price under $1.00 would constitute an infringement of its copyright.

          Sadly they won the biggest battle, except for open source 99.999% of all software is licensed through an EULA not copies sold like a book so you don't have any property rights to begin with. If you wanted to really restore the consumer-manufacturer balance the first thing you should do is create a "Digital Sales Act" that basically says if it walks, talks and quacks like a duck it's a duck. Once you start invalidatin

          • If you wanted to really restore the consumer-manufacturer balance the first thing you should do is create a "Digital Sales Act" that basically says if it walks, talks and quacks like a duck it's a duck. Once you start invalidating most shrinkwrap and clickwrap licenses then you can start talking consumer rights.

            Microsoft is showing us what that future looks like, though, and it involves ads in your apps whether you paid for them or not. And if you don't own the software, then guess what? You're going to lose any and all rights to modify it. In fact, it might even become a crime to block those advertisements.

            Then there's just one small step away to force everyone to use these adware/spyware systems: declare that only approved operating systems will be permitted to connect to the internet for "security" reasons. At

          • Sadly they won the biggest battle, except for open source 99.999% of all software is licensed through an EULA not copies sold like a book so you don't have any property rights to begin with.

            Guess what: shrink-wrap EULAs have NOT ever been upheld as valid by any precedent-setting court. (There are some cases that address somewhat similar-issues, but not any that address an EULA presented after-the-fact in the context of a retail sale.) The idea that EULAs are anything but meaningless contracts of adhesion th

      • And how is any patent infringed in any way? So a company services and refills an already manufactured equipment. Are they building new one? Unless the filling is patented, I still don't see a legal reason for this. If someone rebuilds cars, does he violate car engine patents?
      • Legislators sold us out, creating a whole fabric of law allowing this. The DRM system added to the printer to restrict toner cartridges to Lexmark supplied only ones is patented. Anything that the printer will print with is infringing the patent on the DRM system, and on the DRM chip on the toner.
    • Re:Fait Acompli? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:52AM (#54107055) Homepage

      Is the author high, or trying to sneak in support for an invalid patent, or just plain confused? Patents affect who can make a product. Not the sale or use of the item after the initial manufactures sale.

      35 U.S. Code 271 - Infringement of patent [cornell.edu]

      (a) Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.

      Use is in general covered. The court has in 1992 upheld this:

      The plaintiff in the case owned a patent on a medical device, which it sold to hospitals with a "single use only" notice label. The defendant purchased the used devices from hospitals, refurbished them, and resold them to hospitals. The Federal Circuit held that the single-use restriction was enforceable in accordance with the 1926 General Electric case,

      But now it's not so clear:

      The 2008 Supreme Court decision in Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., arguably leaves unclear the extent to which patentees can avoid the exhaustion doctrine by means of so-called limited licenses (...) At least two district courts have concluded that Mallinckrodt is no longer good law after Quanta.

      Can you avoid patent exhaustion by only giving a limited patent license? There is no clear answer in law, it's a common law doctrine. If they go back to the 1992 decision and say we meant that, the Quanta case was different then single use cartridges will be legal. The Quanta case was more if the product embodies all the essentials of the patent, the right is exhausted. In which case the sticker doesn't bind anyone else from reusing the cartridge.

      • by dacut ( 243842 )

        The 2008 Supreme Court decision in Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Electronics, Inc., arguably leaves unclear the extent to which patentees can avoid the exhaustion doctrine by means of so-called limited licenses (...) At least two district courts have concluded that Mallinckrodt is no longer good law after Quanta.

        It's bizarre that the case has made it this far. The Mallinckrodt ruling has been consistently invalidated at the district level; the US Federal Circuit continues to uphold it, though. SCOTUS had a chance to invalidate it earlier when it overturned the Federal Circuit's decision on Quanta, but sidestepped the whole Mallinckrodt issue [wikipedia.org].

    • It's a three step problem:

      1) Consumer buys patented toner cartridge (probably bogus/obvious patent, but that's not at issue here)
      2) Consumer returns toner cartridge to recycler.
      3) Recycer refurbishes cartridge and re-sells it to someone else.

      Lexmark wants to say that after you've used the toner cartridge, you can't give it to someone else, because they didn't license the patent to someone else. The law isn't clear at all on the topic, so the court could go either way. Even the supreme court seemed a b
      • by qeveren ( 318805 )

        That seems like an awful strange position for Lexmark to take; at no point did they license the patent to the end-user, because the end user isn't manufacturing printer cartridges, they're buying them. I mean, I could see a case if they were selling the cartridges along with some kind of contract agreement that you wouldn't do X with them, but that's nothing to do with patents.

        If this is actually how the OP describes it and it passes the Supreme Court, Americans really need to burn down their legal system a

      • I'm not clear on patent law in this case (certainly not the US laws), but I thought patent licenses cover manufacturing, not use.
        • I don't know the legal arguments, but they might say that when the recycler refurbishes the cartridge, they are practicing manufacturing.
    • Excuse me? What have they patented exactly?

      It doesn't really matter. They have patented _something_ and nobody claims that patent would be invalid. They then go on to claim that because they have some patent, nobody is allowed to refill their cartridges. And that's what should fail in court.

      The exception would be if they have a patent on refilling cartridges, then they can deny you the right to refill cartridges _using their patented method_, but they still can't deny you the right to refill cartridges in any other way.

    • In our legal system, the golden rule applies.

      He with the gold makes the rule.

  • Note to self (Score:5, Insightful)

    by future assassin ( 639396 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:03AM (#54106893) Homepage

    never buy anything Lexmark.

    • That's not news, though. Lexmark has been the sleaziest and also the least competent of printer manufacturers since forever.

      • Re:Note to self (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @04:23AM (#54107425)

        I think HP is just as sleazy. Sending firmware updates to invalidate 3rd party cartridges, programing cartridges not to function beyond X impressions (regardless of ink/toner content). Razer blade sales tricks.

    • by green1 ( 322787 )

      The catch is that it's starting to be "never buy anything" from anyone. There isn't a company on this planet that doesn't want this ability to control it's products after purchase, and they consistently get away with it.
      Once you get rid of all the companies that are trying to screw you over, you quickly find that there's nobody left to buy anything from.

      • by Gryle ( 933382 )
        I concur. I stopped buying Sony products after the root-kit debacle in 2005. I don't by Apple products because I don't like their walled garden model. Samsung was my go-to for a while since they made decent products and didn't seem to view their customer base as chattel, but the recent incidents with the Galaxy Note 7 are making me wary of purchasing anything else from them.

        The usual laissez-faire counter-argument is "go make your own" but most of us don't have the time or expertise to build our own prin
        • It's really a shame that open source hardware (of real components and not just SOCs) isn't more of a thing. Printers might be a little more complex, but "just build your own" has more validity when there is actually resources to draw from. Maybe some 3D printed parts could work (and work long-term) to build your own system if someone cared to design it.
      • The catch is that it's starting to be "never buy anything" from anyone. There isn't a company on this planet that doesn't want this ability to control it's products after purchase, and they consistently get away with it.

        It seems that I can get third party cartridges for my Brother laser printer quite easily. It seems that Brother doesn't try stopping others from making cartridges.

    • All printer manufacturers *KNOW* that there is a market for refilled toner/ink cartridges. That's why they implement DRM chips into the cartridge. They can already legally:

      - Void the warranty on the printer if a 3rd party cartridge is used.
      - Claim copyright infringement of the chip on the cartridge.

      Lexmark is just being super greedy. They want the sales of those aftermarket cartridges. However, they don't realize that *IF* they win the court case, people can choose to purchase a printer and cartridge f
      • Used cartridge market only exists because printer manufacturers shift significant parts of printer's price on printer cartridges. This price shift results in market distortion so market seeks to shift the price back. Only sane solution of this conflict is to have cartridge manufacturer as a separate corporation from printer manufacturer. Otherwise there's no way to prevent printer manufacturers from artificially distorting the market like this.
    • Its funny to think there's a company with worse support than HP out there ;) - I stopped buying (and my IT dept stopped buying) anything Lexmark for the last 15 or so years. I honestly haven't seen one of their printers in a really long time.

    • and I always wondered how they stayed in business. You'd think word would get around.
    • never buy anything Lexmark.

      Or from HP's printer division. Both companies have repeatedly shown over the decades that they are hostile towards their customers. There are plenty of other printer manufacturers out there to choose from.

    • never buy anything Lexmark.

      There's more to it than that though -- the entire printer market is a mess that's good for manufacturers, but bad for consumers, the economy and the environment.

      There has been no major innovation in printing technology since the start of the century. Ink dot sizes are limited by physics and as small as they need to be for most consumer uses. Manufacturers basically sell us the same thing every five years. To encourage us to upgrade, they make the cartridges harder to buy locally... but that strategy is now

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        It's a great idea, but why isn't anyone doing it? I would argue that such a superior printer wouldn't be price competitive with Lexmark/HP/et al because of the way those vendors have skewed the market.

        They've all but gutted their printers to what amounts to glorified paper feeders. Rasterization moved to the driver, greatly reducing the amount of compute needed inside the printer. Networking has been modularized to a $5 ethernet SoC. A lot of the other parts that used to be in the printer are tacked ont

    • never buy anything Lexmark.

      I've been doing this since 1999, when Lexmark was the printer manufacturer most hostile to Linux.

    • And buy what instead? It's not like Epson, Brother or of all the patent-mongers HP is any better.

      What printer company sells me a printer and OFFERS me cartridges instead of doing the printer equivalent of a dealer doing his "first one is free" pitch?

      • What printer company sells me a printer and OFFERS me cartridges instead of doing the printer equivalent of a dealer doing his "first one is free" pitch?

        Unless things have changed recently, that's Canon. They not only have long been the easiest to refill, but actually are known for working well with third party ink. Continuous inking systems are not very expensive either, and make it trivial to dump in as much third-party ink as you like.

        I don't print color, though, so I have an old HP laser, a LJ2300DN with some DIMM upgrades and an additional tray. It has toner cart DRM, but I have a stick-on PCB which you attach with double-sided tape to make a home-refi

  • Rent not sell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @12:48AM (#54107043) Homepage

    Same answer as my last patent post.

    If you want to maintain control over something while gaining money, you RENT it.

    If you SELL it, you give up the right to tell people what to do with it.

    • There's that fuzzy grey area in the middle now, though, like with most video games and other software, where you can have a copy of the files and resources needed to run the software, but the company considers you a lessee and not an owner of that software copy. Their EULA lets them pull your rights any time you violate it and can cut off support at any moment when they decide to give up on it. This is despite it being a purchase, with no up-front contract unless you use stores like Steam or Origin (and eve
      • Re:Rent not sell (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Saturday March 25, 2017 @01:50AM (#54107145)

        There's that fuzzy grey area in the middle now

        NO.

        That "fuzzy gray area" only exists in the delusional minds of tyrannical asshats and their boot-licking shills.

      • "There's that fuzzy grey area in the middle now, though, like with most video games and other software, "

        No the reason corporations got away with "licensing" software instead of us owning it was because no one understood tech, aka only the nerds are smart enough to understand computers and coding. Smart nerds always were for software ownership, business got away with a coup against peoples rights to own technology and software. AKA why can't you repair games or get access to the source? BS licensing laws

  • by Tukz ( 664339 ) on Saturday March 25, 2017 @05:28AM (#54107503) Journal

    Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it?

    Isn't the key difference here that they did it for commercial use and profits?

    If I refill my toner myself, then no, they can't tell me how to use my product after purchase.
    If I refill empty toners and sell them, then it's entirely different.

    • This seems to me the core of the problem, and it's impossible to tell without knowing exactly what patents are being (allegedly) infringed upon.

      If it's just about the shape of the cartridge (which is a perfectly fine thing to patent, assuming that a proper technical effect has been found in the examination procedure), and if this company is effectively selling the cartridges without paying a royalty for the use of this shape of cartridge, then I can see how Lexmark has a case.

      If Lexmark is suing on grounds

    • Despite what many bar-room lawyers think, doing it for yourself isn't a defense against patent infringement. The words are "Sell, make or use".

      Nobody is making imitation Lexmark cartridges. These cartridges have already been bought from Lexmark, at which point they're the customers' property. If you bought a car, you can sell it to someone else, you can pay whoever you like to repair or modify it, you can paint it luminous green. Why should this be different?

      • Nobody is making imitation Lexmark cartridges. These cartridges have already been bought from Lexmark, at which point they're the customers' property. If you bought a car, you can sell it to someone else, you can pay whoever you like to repair or modify it, you can paint it luminous green. Why should this be different?

        Regarding your first point: the cartridges have been indeed bought. The customers at the end can refill them as they see fit. Instead, they sell them to Impression Products (it appears to be i

  • ... when the decided that they wanted a monopoly on printer cartridges, and not wanting people to get refills, start manufacturing the printers and cartridges differently, so that the act of installing it in the printer or removing it after installation physically alters the cartridge in some way so that after you remove it, you physically cannot reinstall it again. There are numerous ways this could be done. One way that comes to mind is to use a breakaway tab that is used to lock that cartridge in pla

  • If lexmark win this then every car manufacturer will be able to create their own fuel and shut out generic petrol alternatives.

    Hell... You could make a toaster that must only run on your specific brand of bread.

    Or even better... A toothbrush that is only licensed to use one brand of toothpaste.

    Hell, a glass that may only use a specific brand of sparkling water.

    FFS!!

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