Legalities With Non-OEM Ink Cartridges

The price of ink cartridges is nothing to ignore. Consider the fact that a common brand of printer cartridges, Hewlett-Packard, sells one at a price of $22 for .25 ounces, it comes out to be more expensive than imported and expensive luxury foods such as caviar from Russia.

Zel Dolinksy, a researcher from Connecticut, has questioned why the ink prices are so high compared to the falling printer prices. Lyra Research reports that the field of selling ink cartridges and toners is a $21 billion field. Many consumers have opted to purchase either a black or color cartridge for inkjet printer from third-party companies in attempts to save money.

Major print vendors Canon, Epson, HP and Lexmark, which make up 84 percent of the total market for ink replacement, are claiming that these third-party makers are violating patents and bringing lawsuits to substantiate their claims. These companies also state that the quality of ink from third parties is not nearly as clear as the ones sold by the manufacturer themselves because they haven’t been fine tuned to properly spray the ink on the paper. These inks can also clog the nozzles and cause damages that aren’t covered by warranty.

Trustbusters are actually examining how the major ink manufacturers sell and market their ink. Some states are attempting to pass laws to protect consumers and allow them to purchase third-party goods and alternatives for ink. The method that the printer companies use to gain a profit is to sell the printers at an extremely low cost. Some even take a loss on the price and make up for it by selling the ink cartridges, which are required to continue to use the item. Bill Hand, financial analyst from Bear and Stearns, reports that both HP and Epson make a profit of 60% on the costs of ink.

To protect themselves, some manufacturers integrate chips into their cartridges to detect whether or not they are genuine. Lexmark’s laser jet toner machines won’t operate without the chip, while Epson’s eliminates the ability to keep track of ink levels.

Consumers all over the world express discontent with the high price of replacing cartridges so often. Lexmark sued Static Control Components for selling clones of their existing microchips to third-party manufacturers who attempt to mimic the original cartridges.

When purchasing your next cartridge for inkjet printer, don’t be surprised if the price of replacing the ink adds up to more than you paid for the printer itself.