October 20, 2005 3:09 PM PDT

HP cracks down on cartridge refill industry

Hewlett-Packard on Thursday accused a national cartridge reseller of refilling used printer cartridges with ink that relies on a formula for an HP-patented ink brand.

In its letter to Cartridge World, HP asked the company to stop using inks with the same chemical composition that's found in its patented brand of Vivera inks. HP holds 9,000 patents related to imaging and printing, 4,000 of them for consumable supplies such as ink and cartridges.

Although not an official legal action, the letter to Cartridge World is part of a broader attempt to crack down on the ink cartridge refill industry, HP said.

"HP spends millions of dollars annually in R&D to create innovations that benefit our customers, and we are rigorous in our protection of this investment," Pradeep Jotwani, senior vice president of supplies in HP's Imaging and Printing Group, said in a statement. "HP hopes that Cartridge World North America will assist its franchisees in quickly complying with the law."

Palo Alto, Calif.-based HP said it found multiple instances of cartridges filled with the infringing ink at Cartridge World's U.S. franchises. The cartridges replace a handful of HP printer cartridges, including those numbered 56, 57 and 78, and would be used in HP's DeskJet consumer printers.

Representatives with Cartridge World North America in Emeryville, Calif., and its home office in Adelaide, South Australia, were not immediately available to comment on the accusations.

Cartridge World, commonly found in strip malls and in business parks, refills empty inkjet cartridges from printer makers such as HP, Epson, Canon and Lexmark International and sells them at heavily discounted rates. For example, Cartridge World sells an HP 56-compatible cartridge for $17.72 instead of its usual retail price of $35.35. A discounted HP 78-compatible cartridge that retails for $53.07 sells for $26.57 under Cartridge World pricing.

Separately, HP said it settled its false-advertising lawsuit against Rhinotek Computer Products of Carson, Calif.

Rhinotek acquires used HP ink cartridges and refills them with generic ink prior to resale. HP's suit alleged that Rhinotek's packaging failed to tell consumers that the "compatible" products are used.

Rhinotek has denied any wrongdoing, but has agreed, among other things, to modify its packaging. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

HP said it is using the Cartridge World and Rhinotek cases to draw attention to its intellectual-property rights.

"HP has lost more than most of the other vendors in the aftermarket because they sell more than any other vendor," said John Shane, a director at InfoTrends/CAP Ventures and an industry expert on the ink and toner market.

The estimated retail value for cartridges used in HP inkjet machines in the United States in 2004 was about $6.3 billion, according to Shane. That's just more than half the $12 billion Shane estimates as the amount for all cartridges for all machines used for desktops last year.

And even though HP printer cartridges make up the majority, the company itself controls only 88 percent of the retail value. The remaining portion of that cartridge demand goes to refilling companies such as Cartridge World, InkCycle and Rhinotek.

"HP products tend to be a little more difficult to recreate in the generic market because the refilling companies can't make print heads, but a good portion of HP's cartridge business is getting eaten up," Shane said.

The case draws many similarities to one that filed the lawsuit in March 2005 after it discovered that refilled inkjet cartridges sold under the Staples brand contained patent-infringing ink. HP filed the lawsuit, but reached the settlement before going to court. InkCycle eventually changed its ink formula.

32 comments

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I understand WHY they're doing this ...
printer manufacturers make more off their consumables than off the printers. But that STILL doesn't make me want to pay $50 for an "official" HP cartridge.
Posted by nasser0000 (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
whats to understand
HP is like the oil co. ; its gouging for all it can . They know their product is not worth a fraction of what they charge but as befits a stogy old style company they hide behind lawsuits and false advertizing.
Posted by mpotter28 (130 comments )
Link Flag
Lower Prices Would Benefit Consumers More
This line is so great, ""HP spends millions of dollars annually in R&D to create innovations that benefit our customers, and..."

How does charging me $60 for 2 crummy refill cartridges benefit me at all? My printer is 4 years old -- not even new technology.

Other disgusting item from the article is the 4,000 HP patents on printer consumables. Is there anything they HAVEN'T patented? How about the alphabet, I guess they forgot to patent that. The Arabic numerals, guess they forgot that too. Well, I am sure HP patent attorneys will get to it soon enough.
Posted by Stating (869 comments )
Reply Link Flag
save the trees
I dont like printers.. I dont like fax machines either..
Posted by (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
With People Not Printing off home printers
With so many people keeping their images on Hard Disk or sent to chemical printing, the home photo printers is getting obsolete. So why push it faster to its grave by selling expensive consumables?
Posted by wilswong (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Volume sales....
"HP has lost more than most of the other vendors in the aftermarket because they sell more than any other vendor,".....

Guess this means they lose a little on every sale, but they make up for it in volume ?

Ink is more expensive than precious metals. What's up with that?
When you can buy a new printer WITH ink for less than a refill, something's clearly wrong.

I print as little as possible. Thanks to the broad coverage of email.
Posted by Orbitration (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Horse Phooey
Obviously the original cartridges are mechanically designed to allow for multiple refills, otherwise the refill industry would not exist at all. If HP and others want a piece of that pie, they should STOP wasting money on litigating and just sell refill ink of their own.
Posted by Methuss (101 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ink cartrdige? Focus on the printer
4/21/06
Do you have HP printer ink cartridge problems? Focus on the printer, not the ink cartridge.

Further into HP's efforts to deceive the unsuspecting consumer. HP goes through this ruse of support and troubleshooting, print cartridge errors..... 99% of which ends up meaningless!

"HP cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of refilled or remanufactured cartridge"

What does this exactly mean? The quality? It means my standards do not meet HP standards. Is this why HP makes my printer inoperable? Reliability. If a refilled or remanufactured ink cartridge fails, it fails! I'll just send it back. But, for the life of me, I cannot understand why I cannot operate my printer? Can HP tell the world, under what specific technical conditions has HP determined that the ink cartridge has failed, and therefore making my printer inoperable? Their answer would be crucial to HPs credibility on the issue.

Recently, when the recycled red ink stopped working, as indicated by my test page, on a more than 3/4 filled color cartridge, past warranty period, the recycler sent me another one, at no cost. Why then, as I questioned in my letter to Mr. Hurd, the test page ran fine, but the next day, the printer immediately stopped working? HP company policy of shutting down a consumers printer is saying, all recycled ink cartridges are not of HP standards, and we will not allow our printers to operate, or the consumer, the free choice, to decide quality choices in the use of the purchasers printers.

In order to let you think that your recycled printer cartridges choices are inferior, and damaging, HP goes through this whole procedure as outlined in their website reference manual.

Problem. A message or flashing light indicates a problem just after a new cartridge is installed A message indicates that there is a problem with a cartridge...Solution... Make sure the cartridges are compatible with the printer. See the manual for a list of compatible cartridges.

If the steps above have not solved the problem, follow the procedure below to wipe the cartridge contacts.... Wipe the copper-colored electrical contacts with a clean, dry, lint-free cotton cloth.... Be careful not to touch the nozzle area. .... If the steps above have not solved the problem, follow the procedure below to wipe the cartridge contacts..... Remove both cartridges..... Wipe the copper-colored electrical contacts with a clean, dry, lint-free cotton cloth.

If your cartridge doesn't look exactly like one of the illustrations above, locate the contacts by looking for an area with a number of small copper squares....If the steps above do not fix the problem, follow the procedure below to clean the electrical contacts more thoroughly: Gather cleaning supplies: Clean distilled water. Use bottled or filtered water if distilled water is not available. Clean cotton swabs or any soft, lint-free material that will not stick to the cartridges (coffee filters work well).... Remove both cartridges. Lightly moisten the lint-free cleaning material with clean water. Clean the cartridge contacts. Avoid touching the nozzles. Replace the cleaning material if it gets dirty. Using a new swab, clean the electrical contacts inside the printer, in the carriage. The illustrations below show contact locations for some representative carriages. If the steps above have not solved the problem, repeat them. .

If the error still occurs after repeating all the steps, replace the cartridges. If you have already replaced the cartridges once without solving the problem, click the link below to contact HP. The printer may need to be serviced.

I like a fool, duped by this deceit, followed HP instructions, plus taking my printer apart. Nothing worked! Nowhere in these HP instructions does it mention you cannot use other suppliers remanufactured ink cartridges. If it had, it would have saved me a lot of trouble. Before making my printer inoperable, can HP tell me how many times must I purchase remanufactured recycled ink cartridges, allowing them to be fully depleted, and full use of my printer?

These HP service instructions are not meant for HP ink cartridge users, but mainly for fools like me, who risked destroying my perfectly operable printer. This is the reason they write this, 'whole support & troubleshooting guide'. Duped consumers who for one reason or another choose recycled, or ink filling methods to satisfy their particular print quality needs. HP tells you to replace the cartridges, knowing full well most are not HP remanufactured ink cartridges, but remanufactured ink cartridges from other suppliers. Closing you down!

I have 6 ink cartridges. They are mine, I paid for them. If I wanted to use grape wine as ink, that is my choice. Grape wine is not an HP patent. Why then can I not operate my printer on grape wine, and why would HP shut my printer down? (Perhaps someday HP will drag somebody into court over grape wine ink)

Charges for servicing the printer. Hp psc 2170 series all-in-one reference guide state on page 66 , For any hardware Product, the use of a non-HP print cartridge or a refilled print cartridge does not effect either the warranty to the Customer or any HP support contract with the customer. However, if Product failure or damage is attributable to the use of a non-HP or refilled print cartridge, HP shall charge its standard labor and materials charges to service the product for the failure or damage.

You see what their scheme is, and to unsuspecting consumers, ..contact HP..the printer may have to be serviced. I wonder how many times consumers have shipped, and allowed HP to service their perfectly operable printers, with absolutely nothing at all wrong with them? Serviced, and replaced only with HP ink cartridges, at a handsome profit. This happens because HP turns off the printer at specific times, for specific reasons unrelated to a ink cartridge problem. It all has to do with greed, and the fast buck.

What damage has there been to the printer? (Other than the damage done when taking one apart.) This all having nothing to do with print ink cartridges, or the printer. but with HP deceptive, and anti-competitive practices. And the free choice decisions of consumers.

By Michael Singer
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: June 8, 2005, 11:46 AM PDT

Hewlett-Packard settled its patent lawsuit with a Kansas City company that refills used inkjet cartridges and resells them to business retail outlets.
InkCycle said it has paid HP an undisclosed sum as part of the settlement. The patents cover the ink found in refurbished cartridges that are compatible with HP cartridges numbered 49, 57 and 78. HP initially filed the lawsuit in March after it discovered that
refilled inkjet cartridges sold under the Staples brand contained patent-infringing ink.

I ask again. What has this to do with my printer being shut down?
Posted by haiki (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am convinced that HP is deliberately doing something to prevent the use of replacement cartridges. My HP Photosmart C4680 rejects replacement cartridges, even ones that go under their specs. I don't know if they're somehow installing something on my machine (especially during any updates) or software installations. There should be a class action lawsuit filed against HP for this deceptive, anti-competitive practice. I hate you HP and I will make sure everyone I know, knows what you're doing. You charge outrageous prices for INK! It's ink, it's not gold! Jerks.
Posted by HATEHP (3 comments )
Link Flag
Thank you. My printer won't even work. It's not an issue with quality, HP is rejecting my cartridges that are an exact fit. My printer takes HP 60's.
Posted by HATEHP (3 comments )
Link Flag
save you some money...i have three printers that i purchased for $29 at walmart...i missed the bundle deals on the walmart online site where i would recieve a 4gb & usb cable with each at no extra cost...i bought an epson, canon and hp...the epson & canon are all in one printer while the hp1000 is just a printer...I tried to refill the epson but wouldnt print at all...canon printed just for a little...BUT I LOVE THE HP...I DIDNT EVEN HAVE TO DRILL A HOLE TO REFILL THANK YOU HP I LOVE YOU...
Posted by real1foru (2 comments )
Link Flag
Call the Kettle Black
Let us state the obvious. HP is willing to do anything in its power to bilk the consumer out of as much cash as possible. Thats a fact, Jack.

I get the razor blade business model. You know, sell the customer the razor for cheap, but make your money on the blades? But the ink cartridge business takes this philosophy to an abusive extreme.

Lets analyze some of the statements within this very article. "HP spends millions of dollars annually in R&D to create innovations that benefit our customers Ok. What is the annual market for ink cartidges? According to this article it is 6.3 BILLION dollars. I tell you what. R&D costs of only a tenth of a percent of your revenue would be a dream situation for most businesses. Further, this R&D cost must be across the entire spectrum of HP product. What a load of effluent crap Mr. Jotwani spouts.

Hey, while were at it, lets ask what these millions of dollars is spent on. Innovations that benefit our customers? How about innovations that prevent the consumer from fully utilizing the product he has paid for? Yeah, I didnt think so. How about chips that cause the cartridge to stop working, whatever the amount of ink remaining? You know a lawsuit has been filed against HP for that?

Ok. One more question for ya. How can it be that the price of a black cartridge plus a color cartridge can be equal to a third the cost of the printer? I mean, that printer is a pretty complex mechanism. I dont think John Q. Public would question the practice if the cartridges were a tenth the price of the printer, but HP et. al. have taken the price gouging to a point where they are causing a revolt amongst their customer base.

The problem is that there is not much of a voice at present to alert the public as to how they are being taken advantage of, save the occasional post like my own. Ralph Nader, David Horowitz  where are you, guys?

Well, thats my ten cents (two doesnt go as far as it used to, you know).
Posted by diamondfist (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
They're all a ripoff....
I love Cartridge World. Where else can I go to have my cartridges refilled for around half of what I would pay for a new HP cartridge at Wally-World? They test them to make sure they are working properly before sending me along my way. Approximately $40 is what it costs for me to replace my cartridges with new ones. C.W. charges me $22.50 for both of them....what it costs for 1 color cartridge.....essentially I'm getting the black for free. Oh no, HP is scared that they're going to lose out on money is they can't slow down or stop the refillers from competing. I think HP makes a good printer, but the consumables are way to high.
Posted by kickinkz (1 comment )
Link Flag
I can definitely tell the difference between original HP ink and refilled ones using non-optimal formula. I am willing to pay the difference when I print something that needs to be high quality. If you just need something in draft quality, then sure go ahead get the cheap refills. But don't fault HP for wanting to protect its investments. HP is not stopping you from refilling but trying to stop the refill house from copy and matching HP's patented ink's chemical composition.
Posted by wlau (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It has nothing do with quality in my case, they replacement won't even work...at all. I'm convinced that HP did something to my printer during the software installation, that loaded this onto my printer.
Posted by HATEHP (3 comments )
Link Flag
I'm sorry, but HP is absolutely trying to stop us from using refillable cartridges in any way they can get away with! It is at the point now where I can no longer print at all because of the feedback mechanism they have set up. I am going to take this to the papers, and make it as public as I can. This is so not okay. It is my choice to use the refillable cartridges as it is your choice to go with the HP brand cartridges. That is the point: I have the right to make said choice. HP does not have the right to thwart anyone's choice of ink cartridge.
Posted by MsKimberleyB (2 comments )
Link Flag
Why anybody would pay full price to HP for ink is hard to understand.

I found a great HP ink refiller in Maine named Bob Caton.

Caton sells quality refills kits at great prices and you can actually call him and talk to him. This is very unusual in this day and age.

You can find him at http://hprefills-bestpricebestquality.blogspot.com
Posted by tedcohens (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I couldn't find him on line - has he gone out of business?
Posted by geekaysee (1 comment )
Link Flag
With thousands of patents HP must surely be infringing on many other makers rights that must have been using similar inks before them. If I were in place of others, I would check all their inks one by one to see what HP has been doing. After all there aren't too many options to play with when formulating ink. The fact that it is absolutely possible to prevent refills but at least HP doesn't is the proof that they want to sell their printers. Only a fraction of people would buy printers with no refill option. There are much better printers with lower cost and better color inks (and toners, in case of lasers) in the market, but even I don't buy such a printer. Why ? HP refills are easier to find and I can find refills with even better quality than the originals, no matter what they claim. Chips and dates? I hot wired the circuitry in my printer and have been refilling happily ever since.
Posted by asrs2007 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
love to hot wire my hp 2710, cause a refilled color cartridge will not work. what a ripoff !!
Posted by stcyr1up (1 comment )
Link Flag
http://hprefills-bestpricebestquality.blogspot.com

Please do check out as you will be very pleased with the quality of the product and the price.

The ink is top quality and the price is very cheap with free shipping. We are in Maine but ship all over the USA.
Posted by tedcohens (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I believe in the freedom of speech, movement, etc and to be able to use whatever ink I like in my own purchase.
HP butt out, if I want crappy cartridges i'll buy them... or if I want HP original i'll think about those. But having the ability to pick and choose is the customers right. This hp printer of mine is the last one i'll purchase.
Posted by paddlesat16 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
HP is at it again! HP is again setting up a policy of shutting down, at a predetermined time, to limit a consumers use of their HP printer. For my HP OfficeJet 5600 All-In-Series, I purchased from Kroger Food store a refill on 2/23/2010. As indicated it replaces the HP 27 Cartridge. Cartridge City brand. It is now April 17, 2010, and my printer has shut down from further use. With my previous HP printer, after a predetermined period the HP printer displayed a message informing me that my ink was low, and then shut down my printer from further use. Because of HP greed, this same procedure is being used, but with a different message. Now, after using my cartridge for 54 days HP came up with a different message, ?printer cartridge not compatible??, ending further use of my printer. HP now avoids using the word ink. Although ink is low but copies still at quality level, this was no reason for low ink to stop the printer from working, after pressing O.K. on the control panel.

To prove my point, I just replaced my cartridge with the same exact store bought Cartridge City brand #27. Now the printer works again. If the cartridge #27 is the same, but is not compatible, why then does my printer now print? This is the same trick they pulled with the low ink message.
Posted by haiki (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If they don't want the competition then lower their prices to less than competitors. Reduce CEO's salary so they can sell for less.
Posted by Valk2000 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
HP is doing the usual hypocrisy act. They claim to support free competition in the capitalist market then they seek to stifle that competition by closing down suppliers of goods that are cheaper than the overpriced HP product. If the state won't act against against HP's greed in ripping off its customers, then it's fair enough that the market should be permitted to fill the gap. If HP really cared about its customers (what a joke!) it would sell them at a more reasonable cost. If competitors can undercut HP cartridge prices by so much then HP is deliberately overpricing and profiteering, especially considering HP prices could be even lower due to economies of scale..
Posted by spartain (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
wonderful information related to
<a href="http://www.simplycartridge.co.uk/">ink for printer cartridges</a>.
keep it up.
Posted by uktoner (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
OK, I'm pissed like all the other HP printer owners who have vented here. The HP ink cartridges that I had refilled at Costco worked for awhile, but recently HP apparently installed software that locks the printer with the error message "printer cartridge missing or not detected". At this point I would be perfectly happy to throw both of my HP color injet printers off a cliff, and replace them with Canon, Epson, Brother, or any brand that does not hassle you over refilled or aftermarket cartridges. Is there such a brand? Or do the others pull the same crap as HP? Does anybody out there know the answer on this?
Posted by idaholuke (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Just tell Mr Hewlett and his old pal Packard that they will never sell me a printer again!
Posted by darylh69 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
HP C5380. Did work nice.
I install a CISS syttem and it worked well for a bit, and I accepted that it was low on ink and pressed OK, after a while it started printing only half a page. The driver in Win7 decided, in it's wisdom I was low on ink and tried to link me to HP.
The only way I could make it work for a full page, was disable 2 way USB communication so the driver could not determine the ink status.
Just like a network printer, where you can only send stuff to the printer.
Worked fine for a month or so, and has now stopped working totally, for only one reason. It KNOWS it has printed at least half a cartridge extra worth of ink. It says INK SYSTEM FAILURE.
Nothing wrong with my ink system, fully purged and was working till past some hidden use by date.
It says turn off the printer.
Once turned on the menu comes up perfectly - or appears to.
As soon as any printing/copying is attempted - you guessed it. INK SYSTEM FAILURE.
A full hardware reset procedure, enter country code, the lot and wait 5 minutes while it sucks some more of MY INK and then INK SYSTEM FAILURE.
This is a SOFTWARE TIMEBOMB and should be illegal.
I should be able to print with whatever quality I like, destroy the printhead or hit it with a hammer, but the TIMEBOMB needs resetting.
GRRR!!!!
Posted by neilw2O (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I am quite sure that what HP et. al. are doing to "sabotage" printing when using refillable ink cartridges over their excessively over-priced retail cartridges is illegal.
For the past three "refills" I have had more and more issues with increasing, which have been increasingly egregious, I might add, with my printer. I have limited usage and either have to live with these limitations, or uninstall and reinstall the printer software only to arrive at an 80% fix. And unless I re-register my printer each time, I am still SOL for being able to use some of my All-In-One's features such as the automatic two-sided printing feature.
I know it sounds a little alarmist, however, how else can you explain why the printer is working perfectly fine (once I get everything up and running again until the ink runs out, and then doesn't work as it should, or as has finally happened after this last cartridge swap, not at all?!
Any pointers for how to "unsabotage" HP so that I can choose and use whatever printer cartridge I want and enjoy the full functionality of my printer as is my due?
Posted by MsKimberleyB (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
TIPS: REFILL BEFORE YOU RUN OUT OF INK
BUY AN HP1000 NO DRILLING IS REQUIRED
Posted by real1foru (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't understand why I should buy new ink cartridges for my printer. because, buying these cartridges once is costlier than selling my "HP Photosmart Plus" printer today. Great customer care by HP.

I'm going to buy a new laptop. somebody recommended me HP laptops. you know what, I made him realize HP is a very cunning company. so, it's better to stay away from HP products. I would risk my life rather than buying a HP product. good bye HP..
Posted by Dinakaran_Babu (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
 

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