Epson Succeeds In Stopping Competitors From Making Compatible Ink Cartridges

from the remind-me-not-to-buy-another-Epson-printer dept

I currently have an Epson printer that's on its last legs. While the printer has served me fine for many years, Epson has just made it abundantly clear why I should never buy another printer from them. Last February, the company went after 24 vendors of Epson-compatible ink cartridges, claiming "patent" violations for putting ink into a cartridge that works on their printers. That's clearly not in the spirit of the patent system at all, but rather a blatant attempt to keep competitors out of the market by misusing patent laws. It's obviously lucrative to Epson to do so, since the artificial scarcity the printer companies have created has inflated the price of ink to ridiculous levels (filling a swimming pool with ink would cost nearly $6 billion -- with a b), making it perhaps the most expensive liquid around. So, it's unfortunate that Epson has apparently succeeded in intimidating many of the compatible ink cartridge makers into leaving the market. Obviously, Epson thinks it's in its own best interests to limit the market so they can charge such high prices (this is the same company that has also been accused of forcing you to replace cartridges even when they still have plenty of ink -- a charge the company denies). However, it also signals to consumers that Epson printers are going to be plenty expensive to maintain and that they may be better off looking elsewhere. Certainly, many of the other printer makers are just as bad, but that should be seen as an opportunity for someone to come along and charge a much more reasonable amount for ink, and then advertise the hell out of how much money they'll save everyone.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2006 @ 5:09am

    3rd party ink

    "I don't believe the price of printers would go up if there were aftermarket ink, either."

    I work for a printer company. We deal with this issue all the time.

    You're only thinking of the price of the ink. Third party ink causes a lot more problems than unhappy companies. Most companies have a formula for their ink that is optimal for the print head. Third party companies couldn't give a crap about that, they just want your money. When the third party ink is too thick to run through the print head nozzles, it gets clogged and cannot function. When it's too thin, your prints look like crap and the print head eventually gets burned. The print head usually costs more than the printer itself, so when it goes bad, the printer, the print head, and your third party inks are all worthless. You might not care if you own a $40 printer and will just toss it and buy another, but buy a decent higher end printer and do this and after a while you will get tired of paying for another $150 printer every four months.

    The funny thing about all this is that the people who usually end up trashing their print head using third party inks are the same people who complain that a company's product is crap. If you used it as recommended you'd have a better product that lasted a lot longer.

    And Reed, I can't think of any printer companies that include a USB cable with their products. Why? Because most people have quite a few already. If not, it's cheaper to buy a standard cable than have the company include one, both for price reasons, and troubleshooting if something is wrong.

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