The number of legal disputes involving patents and printer ink really is staggering. However, given all the cases, you could make a credible argument that these guys all seem to be patenting slightly different implementations almost solely for the purpose of blocking competitors or other ink sellers from competing. That is, it's not about innovation, but about hindering the market. One of these cases has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court, with an ink seller claiming that a company that makes a patented printhead with non-patented ink is setting up an illegal "tying" arrangement. The Supreme Court, however, has now sent the case back to the lower court, saying that a patent doesn't necessarily mean unfair market power, and therefore, the burden is on the independent ink seller to prove that that the patent holder is using that patent for unfair market advantage. This seems a bit strange, as the very nature of a patent is to give the owner a monopoly on the product, which certainly puts them in a position of market power.
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