March 30, 2005 11:07 AM PST

Inkjet refiller lashes out at HP for lawsuit

Rhinotek's chairman has sharply criticized Hewlett-Packard over a lawsuit asserting that the inkjet cartridge refiller falsely advertises its products as new.

"I think HP is utilizing a bullying tactic," Gerald Chamales, who also is founder of the 150-employee company in Carson, Calif., said late Tuesday. "I think consumers are tired of being gouged by what I call the cartel, which is the major printer manufacturers, led by HP, Lexmark and Canon, (and which is) forcing people to not have a choice when it comes to ink and toner cartridges."

However, Rhinotek hasn't determined its legal response yet. "We are considering all our legal options. We intend on defending ourselves vigorously," Chamales said. "We're considering filing a countersuit for antitrust and business disruption for frivolous litigation."

HP, based in Palo Alto, Calif., sees things differently. "We're not forcing people to use any particular cartridge. We just think it's wrong to sell our used cartridges without telling people they are used HP cartridges," company spokeswoman Monica Sarkar said.

HP sued Rhinotek on Monday for false advertising, arguing that the company falsely advertises its recycled HP inkjet cartridges as new. HP also sued another company, Lenexa, Kan.-based InkCycle, for using ink that HP said infringes on three of its patents.

Consumables, which are printer supplies such as inkjet cartridges, laser printer toner cartridges and glossy photo paper, are a major revenue source for HP and other printer manufacturers. Companies that remanufacture or refill the cartridges cut into the resulting profits, though HP argues it doesn't object to the refilling business in general.

HP wants Rhinotek to label its cartridges as used, and it objects to the company's packaging, which calls the products "heavy duty."

Chamales said "heavy duty" describes the ink, which lasts as long as HP's or longer.

"I think our packaging is fine. We put on there, 'manufactured with recycled components,'" he said.

Rhinotek's packaging doesn't use quite those words, however. Under the words "Help the Environment," the packaging says, "At Rhinotek we do everything we can to encourage recycling. We use recycled components in our packaging and products whenever possible."


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My Choice is Yay HP!
Based on the article and NOTHING ELSE, I am left with the impression that Rhinotek is in the wrong. It appears that HP is not 'bullying' Rhinotek as the spokesperson mentions, but that HP simply wants a better indication on Rhinotek's packaging and advertising to make it clearer that they are not using new cartridges.

As a consumer, I despise misleading advertising, and personally wouldn't buy Rhinotek aside from this article, but would be even less inclined to buy from them if I found out that they were deceptive. (Of course, I'm not naive enough to think that HP is always forthcoming either in all of their advertising)
Posted by TMB333 (115 comments )
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Personally I'm avoiding both. So much for "there's no such thing as bad press"
Posted by Karios Kasra (62 comments )
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Printer ink cartridge conspiracy
Think about any ink cartridge, for example, HP ink cartridge that has a warranty. Bad ink cartridge, color bad, light ink which appears watery, what-ever, they give you another one. That's the way a warranty works. You buy a recycled ink cartridge, with no HP warranty. It may work momentarily, but then you get these same messages, remove cartridge. Why should my printer shut down after purchasing a recycled ink cartridge? But then if you buy an HP ink cartridge, your printer is up and running again. Or until that time HP thinks you have printed long enough, even if you have plenty of ink. HP forces you, according to HP predetermined usage, in order for your printer to work, to buy their ink cartridges, or HP will shut your printer down.

But HP said the [HP initiated lawsuits] aren't a change in HP's policy that customers have a right to refill legally purchased cartridges or buy refilled cartridges. "We still believe it's the customer's choice," said spokeswoman Monica Sarkar, adding that HP believes its products have better quality and reliability.

HP printing executive Pradeep Jotwani said in a 2003 interview, "We consciously make sure that our cartridges are reusable and refillable," [He's talking about cartridges returned to HP for recycling] The company does put some limits on the practice, such as adding software that makes some of its cartridges unusable after a certain expiration date--either four-and-a-half years after its manufacture or two-and-a-half years after its installation.

Can Mr. Potwani tell the world, under what specific technical conditions, and reason, has determined that the ink cartridge has failed.....before the expiration date, or after purchasing a recycled ink cartridge, making my printer inoperable? And can he tell the world, a consumer would like to know exactly what is the meaning of legally purchased cartridges or legally refilled cartridges.

Don't focus on the ink cartridge, focus on the fact HP, and other printer manufacturers, stop your printer from working, because of some silly game they are playing of cheating customers before the ink runs out, or wrong ink standards, or what-ever. I say, go ahead send these stupid messages, but don't stop my printer from working. This is anti-competitive, and in violation of anti-trust laws.

To be perfectly clear

Hewlett Packard recycles their ink cartridges by promoting that HP cartridges be returned for recycling, using a self addressed, stamped envelope. Allowing HP, through their refurbishing and reselling effort to conserve resources, using the various recycling facilities of manufacturers around the world contracted by HP. Thus, the mere fact that there also are other recyclers available to refurbish, and recycle ink cartridges, but except for lower cost, and the free choice of the consumer, HP has restricted the consumer the full use, and the operation of HP printers.

Smith and Robersons Business Law, ninth edition. West Publishing. Chapter 43; ANTITRUST.
Characterizing a type of restraint as per se illegal therefore has a significant effect on the prosecution of an antitrust suit. In such a case, the plaintiff need only show that the type of restraint occurred, she does not need to prove that the restraint limited competition.....Tying arrangements. A tying arrangement occurs when the seller of a product, service, or intangible (the "tying" product) conditions its sale on the buyers purchasing a second product, service, or intangible (the "tied" product) from the seller....Because tying arrangements limit buyers' freedom of choice and may exclude competitors, the law closely scrutinizes such agreements.

Hewlett Packard has, unbeknownst to customers who purchased HP printers (tying product), tied as a condition, the purchase of new HP ink cartridges (tied product), or HP recycled ink cartridges, through the use illegal anti-competitive consumer practices.

After all, what are we talking about, it's a ball point pen refill morphed into a printer ink cartridge. Its a recycled auto part! Again, I say Hewlett Packard, and the rest of the conspirators, play your silly games by cheating consumers on ink cost, and supplies. I say go ahead! But dont stop me from the use of my printer.
Posted by haiki (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I say come and get me.
Enough is enough.
It is time for an all out Class Action on the grounds of Anti Trust.
Sherman Clayton Act respectively.
Posted by LaserPro (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I say come and get me.
Enough is enough.
It is time for an all out Class Action on the grounds of Anti Trust.
Sherman Clayton Act respectively.
Posted by LaserPro (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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