It's quite well known that the business model for ink jet printer makers is to sell the printers for next to nothing, and then make it up by charging ridiculously high prices for the ink cartridges. Of course, since this is the model they use, the vendors get mighty upset when they find out that other companies are selling replacement cartridges that work in their printers. In the US, that resulted in a series of lawsuits with Lexmark misinterpreting the DMCA to try to turn selling competing printer supplies into a copyright issue. Though it took many years, lots of wasted dollars, and probably frightened off many competitive sellers, eventually Lexmark was slapped down and told that it was misusing the DMCA. Meanwhile, other manufacturers are trying different intellectual property routes to stop real competition in the market. Just a few months ago, we noted that Epson was using patents as an excuse to sue a bunch of retailers. It appears that the strategy is working. Four online retailers based in Germany have all agreed to stop selling off-brand ink cartridges. To celebrate, I've just gone out and bought a bunch of off-brand ink cartridges for my Epson printer. This has absolutely nothing to do with "protecting" intellectual property -- and everything to do with shutting down a competitive marketplace.
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