Epson Jumps On Aftermarket Ink Resellers — Claims Patent Infringement

from the but-of-course dept

The big printer companies really do seem to go out of their way to use intellectual property law to prevent any real competition for the ink they sell. How else can they make sure that their ink costs more than vintage champagne or high end perfume? Or, to put it in more graphic terms, apparently an Olympic-sized pool filled with printer ink would cost more than $5.9 billion at market prices today. So, yeah, it’s no wonder that the printer companies (who subsidize the printers, and try to make it up in the ink) are doing whatever possible to lock out anyone else who might compete. In the past, Lexmark tried very hard, but was eventually denied when it tried to use the DMCA to stop competitors. However, the other printer makers have apparently learned from that mess. Instead of using the DMCA, they’re using patents. HP went after ink refillers last year and now Epson is going after 24 aftermarket ink resellers, claiming patent violations.

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Comments on “Epson Jumps On Aftermarket Ink Resellers — Claims Patent Infringement”

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Young (user link) says:


Just buy a continuous ink system. To solve most people’s worries about purchasing the correct Continuous Ink System for their printer, you may want to try They offer a 30 day free trial and their ink is made in the USA. Not imported. They also provide a Printer Protection Program where if their product damages your printer in any way, they will pay for the cost of replacing the printer.


Peet McKimmie (profile) says:

Re: Alternatives

The real trick was to wedge a tiny wad of paper under the front of the ribbon, raising it slightly. Then you ran it till it faded out, and you could open the cartridge and turn the ribbon over to double its life because the faint part was all along one edge. 🙂

After that, of course, you’d squirt some endorsingt ink into it and spin the ribbon through until it was fullt reinked, and repeat using until the ribbon actually wore through. ;-D

Jimmy Bear Pearson (user link) says:

Have bought new inkjets because

I have, on two occasions, purchased an entire new-in-the box printer because the printer was $10USD more than the replacement carts. It does rather seem that the manufacturers are selling the printer as a means to sell ink (business sense says that?s not a bad model, but?)?

Honestly, I would rather pay $200 up front for a good printer, then pay $10 for full-array-color inks later on. The cost-per-print of plain black-and-white printing through today?s inkjets is outrageous. I recently replaced one of our inkjets with a simple, refurbished laser (for the family?s black-and-white printing jobs), and have already saved more money than it takes to buy two sets of carts from the previous text printer.

Devin (user link) says:

Re: Have bought new inkjets because

Considering you can buy laser printers now for around $200 if you are printing a lot of black and white text there really is no excuse not to have a laser printer. My brother’s very small business does that, they have a color inkjet sitting under the desk for the rare occasion they need to print in color and just use the laser that sits on the desk for normal printing.

DoxAvg says:

Cost for ink is a false metric

I’m rather tired of hearing the disengenuous argument about how inkjet ink is more expensive than french champagne. It’s because you’re not buying ink – you’re buying a new print head and ink to go with it (in most cases). It’s like saying that Mercedes-Benz brand Brake Fluid is such a rip-off because it costs $60,000 on a new car and you only get 2 quarts. That’s trillions of dollars for an Olypic-sized swimming pool of brake fluid, and we’re not going to take any more!
Yes, the inkjet business model is all messed up. Yes, consumers have been duped with loss-leader printer prices. Yes, the litigous protection of a business model based on consumer’s lack of intelligence is wrong. But don’t make the argument on the $/gallon principle. Buy a laser. Print your pictures at Wal-Mart for $0.08 per print (on better paper with better tone than your inkjet will give you). Beat the inkjet manufacturers soundly about the head and shoulders with your wallet until they comply.

Jamie says:

Re: Cost for ink is a false metric

“you’re not buying ink – you’re buying a new print head and ink to go with it”

That’s true, but the printer manufacturers try their best to keep you from being allowed to refill the existing cartriges. Going so far as to sue companies that refill your cartriges or provide kits for refilling. Also, if the cost of the print head and the ink is so expensive, then why is it that the aftermarket manufacturers can make them and sell them at half the cost of the official cartriges?

Charles says:

Re: Re: Cost for ink is a false metric

“aftermarket manufacturers can make them and sell them at half the cost of the official cartriges”

Their able to do it because their not actually making the cartridge. They get people to send in their old ones or buy them from a recycler and then refill them. So it’s actually the OEM that’s making them.
While I don’t agree with the OEM’s, I just wanted to correct that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Cost for ink is a false metric

“you’re not buying ink – you’re buying a new print head and ink to go with it”

If that is true, then why is it $33 for a SINGLE black cartridge – but $37 for *FOUR* color cartridges?

It seems to me that Epson knows that businesses will be using much more black ink than color, so they charge 300% more for that single cartridge.

The pricing is like this with ALL Of their inkjet models – here is an example:

which comes out to $70 to replace all the inks at one time. OR you could just purchase a brand new identical Epson printer for $49… which already comes with these inks.

It seems to me, that it would be in your best benefit to just throw away your printer when the inks run out and buy a new one (every 2 months or so).

the unknown says:

Re: Re: Re: Cost for ink is a false metric

“It seems to me, that it would be in your best benefit to just throw away your printer when the inks run out and buy a new one (every 2 months or so).”

It seems this is the business model many companies tend to follow. So when is greenpeace going to cry scandal? Anybody else see a serious flaw here, or am i the only hippie dooshbag on this forum?
FYI i’m no hippie. Hippies piss me off but overconsumption to the benefit of an industry’s “health” pisses me off more. What can I do about it? Maybe join greenpeace, buy a sniper gun and knock some industry players off. OK that’s no solution, agreed, but it would sure apease my anger. For the moment, I’ll be sitting on the side-lines and watching the world go to hell as always, hail satan!

Now where’s my vallium and prozac to put this frustrated wanna-be-rebel at peace? There we go, aah much better. Woopty-fuck’n-doo…

— off topic yet again, guess i’m not getting guestlisted at any sillicon valley parties any time soon, bummer i love a girl with acne and thick glasses who is fluent in C++ —

Todd Henkel says:

Re: Re: Re: Cost for ink is a false metric

Absolutely – it is the only way I handle printing now!!!

Use Wal Mart or Walgreens for photo printing and stick it to the printer companies by buying a new printer instead of new cartridges. They lose money on every printer sale thinking we are too dumb to catch on…

Tyler Johnson says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Cost for ink is a false metric

Or go one step better and use Costco Rental… Buy a new printer from Costco and then when you run out of ink, take it back and get a new one. You only have to pay the difference between the FULL refund you get and the purchase price of the new one, saving you TONS of money, and never having to purchase INK. Where there’s a will, there’s Costco Rental to the rescue.

Dman says:

Ink and printers

You may be able to pay alot less for ink refills however you are putting you printer ask risk of many problems. The ink they refill you cartrige with is NOT designed to work with the manufactures printhead technology. Manufactures ink is desinged to work with how it prints. Yes these companies are upset over the money. They are also upset because when a person refills with a vendor the printer starts having more problems and makes the company deal with alot more technical support issues not to mention how it makes thier product look in the market place. Basicly you get what you pay for.

Mike says:

Re: Easy solution(?)

Dude.. it’s been done and I have it. It’s called “Continous Ink Systems” and most of us who pursue photography in a serious line have it. It’s a set of tanks on the outside that run feeder tubes to the cartridges. The ink costs 8 dollars for four oz which sounds like a lot until you see that the typical cartridge only holds something like a tenth of an once of ink. I’ve been running this on my Epson 1280 (bite me Epson) for over three years and have only filled the tanks once for 40.00 US. And that has been thousands of prints.

Bear Fox says:

Re: Re: Continuous Ink Systems

I have one as well, for a Canon Pixma ip5000 –

If you get your kit & ink from a reputable dealer, it more than pays for itself. My kit costaround $150 , including ink equivalent to 10 cartridges. If I had purchased canon carts …
5 carts X $10/cart X 10 = $500

I got my kit and my ink from MIS Associates ( based on recommendations from users of Steve’s Digicam forum. Another good site for information of continuous ink systems is

ps: Those printers that cost less that the ink cartridge actually have “starter” ink carts in them. They only contain 1/2 to 1/4 the amount of ink a regular cart does. HP and Lexmark are particularly bad about this. Personally, I will stick with Canon. Their printers cost more, carts cost less, and they don’t use any electronic gimmicks to force you to buy ink you don’t need (ie they have a real ink level sensor (optical) as opposed to just counting pages or cartridge age).

BV says:

Re: Re: Re: Continuous Ink Systems

Not true!

The newest generation of Canon printers released this past month now use carts with chips built in. 3rd party carts cannot be used as the chips are required by the new printers and their design is patented. On the refil fron, if the printer detects that a cart is refilled it prohibits you from printing till the carteridge is replaced. Furthermore it writes your “warenty violation” to the printers onboard memory.

Consider yourself lucky the ip5000 was the last generation of canon printers economical inks can be used in.

txjump says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Continuous Ink Systems

“The newest generation of Canon printers released this past month now use carts with chips built in. 3rd party carts cannot be used as the chips are required by the new printers and their design is patented. “

Some refiller companies actually sell a tool that resets the chip when you refill it.

Mike says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Continuous Ink Systems

Lets have some history. In years past, I ran a small biz remanufacturing toner cartridges. Note the word “remanufacturing”, this was not the drill and fill school. We tore down and rebuilt the cartridge using new toner, sometimes new drums, wipers and seals. And I still was able build them for roughly 12 dollars a unit and sell them for 49 per unit and undercut HP by 30 dollars. HP threaten to void people’s warrenthy if they used mine or other rebuilt units. HP was slapped with a lawsuit and several years later HP lost. And if you read carefully now on their box, it says “may contain remanufactured parts”.

Lexmark tried to use the DCMA to shut down refillers and they lost recently. Any company that tries to enforce a monoply like this will lose in the end. The last thing you want to see is the ability of someone like a car manufacturer say “you have to use our parts and no one elses and you have to pay whatever price we set”. That is illegal in the US, I dont know about elsewhere. It flies in the face of a free market economy and the courts have backed it up time and time again.

So Epson and Canon and whoever else can piss away all the money they want and thump their chests all they want but they will lose in the end. The problem is that the “end” can take several years and many court battles. And by that time, all that time and money could have gone into building a better mousetrap rathering they paying off the lawyers.

dan says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Continuous Ink Systems

Yeah, but if a company sells you a defective chip resetter they ignore your fuck’n emails and act like fraudulent a$$ wipes…. That’s ok, I’ve taken internet scammers to the table before with the BBB and Federal Electronic Fraud center..

Beware of these jerkoffs they’ll take your money but when something is defective they take their damn time until you threaten them..

james e smith says:

Re: Re: Easy solution(?)

Hey….. not sure if this is going to get to you…. i hope so……. i am an artist looking at supplying my epson r1800 with ink……… my concerns are that the aftermarket inks aren’t as fade/smudge/archival as the durabrite ones from epson……. you being a photographer, i would be really interested from hearing from you….. I’ve seen the continuous systems listed on ebay……but yet again, i worry about messing up warranty…..etc… i said, i hope you get this…. my email, in case it gets offted from sending is: jmeart(at)

Gino Benelli says:

Epson cartridges AND print heads

The Epson C-84 that I bought after reading a Consumer Reports recommendation has been practically useless because of its huge consumption of ink, and a non-maintainable (by the average consumer), easily clogged print head assembly. Epson should take all of these back and refund my loot. Since I print mostly black, and since the head cleaning process eats ink like you wouldn’t believe, I have a printing cost that is extreme at $.85 per page. I have only printed two sheets of color in all the time I have had it, and I’m spending my money on ink that just gets purged when the printer is turned on. Epson told me to turn the printer off between uses to save ink, and then the print head clogged. The next message from them was “gee, that’s too bad — there isn’t anything else you can do if buying new genuine Epson print cartridges doesn’t fix it.”

I’ll be getting a laser next, if I can find one that doesn’t come with a box of caveats.

gordo (user link) says:

article not completely correct

the lawsuit from HP was about electronics not ink, regarding the electronic signalling and was aimed at suppliers, not the actual refillers. Lexmark has multiple lawsuits last year also regarding their chips, and one was using patent laws against Static Control.

The printer companies need to realize we as refillers have an annual revenue of $10 billion, and no lawsuit, negative adversiting, or tricks will stop us.

They need to realize their loss, sell the ink and toner to refillers and make back some of that money.

Bri (profile) says:

Don't print

Frankly I just don’t print anything to paper, it all goes to the hard drives for migration to opticals here. I used to have a laser printer but found over the years that the stacks of printouts just accumulated and it was far harder to find anything in my filing cabinets that to just drop into a neat directory structure and pull up a pdf or txt file. I’ve had only one situation that seemed to call for a printout, a Microsoft event where they wanted me to print out my ticket. I dropped them a message that I didn’t have a printer and they just said bring your event registration number. If you want a piece of paper from me, well you’ll get it via fax direct from my computer or you get an attachment that you can print out.

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