by Mike Masnick
Wed, Dec 19th 2007 10:24am
Back in February, we talked about how HP was pressuring retailers not to stock generic brand inkjet printer ink cartridge refills, though it appeared that Staples was the only company who agreed to the deal. This wasn't surprising -- as the margins on printer ink for companies like HP are astronomical, and the company has been doing everything it can possibly think of to stop anyone from selling competitive ink, including filing bogus patent lawsuits. It took some time, but someone is now trying to file a class action lawsuit against HP for the deal it made with Staples, who is also included. The lawsuit claims that the deal is an antitrust violation, but that seems like a huge stretch. While we agree that it's somewhat sleazy, it's hard to see how this is a serious antitrust violation. There are plenty of places, online and off, where you can buy offbrand ink cartridges (or have existing cartridges refilled). If Staples wants to cede all that business to others, that's its (bad) decision. However, no one is forcing people to shop at Staples, and customers should do a little research before realizing that there are much better options than what Staples is stocking on its shelves.
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