US Supreme Court Protects Consumers’ Right To Refill Ink Cartridges In Precedent-Setting Lexmark vs Impression Case
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The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday companies give up their patent rights when they sell an item, in a ruling that puts new limits on businesses’ ability to prevent their products from being resold at a discount. The ruling is a defeat for Lexmark International, which was trying to stop refurbished versions of its printer cartridges from undercutting its U.S. sales. It’s also a blow to companies like HP and Canon that sell their printers for a relatively low cost with the idea that they will recoup money on sales of replacement cartridges. From a report: Lexmark originally set its sights on Impression Products, a small company that specializes in remanufacturing print cartridges for resale at prices much lower than what a customer would pay for a “genuine” Lexmark product. These cartridges often have no noticeable difference in performance compared to genuine ink or toner cartridges — the only real difference is that customers can save a lot of money by going the remanufactured route. This secondary market for cartridges not only has implications for regular Joes looking to save a buck, but also businesses that are always looking to cut costs.
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