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HP Launches Ink Patent Violation Manhunt 337

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the ink-turf-wars dept.
BlueCup writes to tell us that Hewlett-Packard has deployed a large team consisting of many scientists and many more lawyers looking for possible ink patent infringement. With more than 4,000 patents on their ink formulations and cartridge design and a market share of more than 50 percent in the US HP depends heavily on the sale of ink to make profit after sometimes selling their printers at a loss in order to lock in the ink resale.
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HP Launches Ink Patent Violation Manhunt

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  • Perhaps.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:16PM (#16001224) Homepage Journal

    Hewlett-Packard has deployed a large team consisting of many scientists and many more lawyers ... [HP have] a market share of more than 50 percent in the US HP depends heavily on the sale of ink to make profit after sometimes selling their printers at a loss in order to lock in the ink resale.

    Two days ago I was attempting to print a B&W document on my HP inkjet printer and it paused .. printed a line and paused .. then stuck. I form-fed the sheet it had stalled on and found a large amount (at HP rates, about $4 worth) of ink pooled on the paper, as if it had taken a widdle and forgot where it was before this well-timed potty break. After cancelling the print job and powering down and up again the printer, I tried again. Same results. Perhaps they could explain why this is happening.

    It's simple, sir, HP depend upon your regular purchase of ink and you haven't bought enough recently to ensure sustained profits. It's another of our patented business processes. Get out and buy some more, there's a good chap.

    • HP ink? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cybert4 (994278) *
      So it was HP ink? Have you always used HP ink? I really don't think that's on purpose.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      From what I understand, many printers put a great deal of their machinery within the ink cartridges so that the printer can be sold for less money. People see the printer, buy it because it's cheap, then have no choice but to spend $50 on ink.

      Printers lying about ink levels seem common, too; the software for my Epson Photo 700 (worst printer ever!) pretends to be out of ink when it is clearly still about half full.

      • Re:Perhaps.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mister Whirly (964219) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @03:04PM (#16001580) Homepage
        My general rule of thumb is - the more you spend initially on the printer, the less the consumables usually are. That $80 inkjet will use $100 worth of ink in a year, but my $400 laser printer uses about $40 of toner a year...You can either pay now, or pay later...
      • I had the Epson C86 Stylus and found the ink level reporting to be quite terrible as well. To top it off, the C86 did the same thing my C82 did about a year ago. My C82 reported that the black cartridge was empty (although shaking it indicated that it had a decent amount of ink still) and replacing didn't resolve the problem. Well calling Epson tech support lead to them providing a new C86, even after it was about 6 months out of warranty. I thought that was awfully nice of them until I realized that th
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:17PM (#16001227) Journal

    So, now HP needs to chase down violators to protect itself. If only HP had continued to pay attention to quality, maybe HP would not need to worry about this kind of activity.

    Fifteen years ago, the only brand of printer I would buy was HP. Partly because HP was on point, but also because I'd always associated HP with quality as job one (actually, I guess that was supposed to be Ford). HP calculators, printers, electrical instruments, all quality products for years I'd faithfully used with trust.

    Then came the second HP printer I'd ever bought, a deskjet, and I don't remember its model number. I do remember it suddenly either would pick up no sheets of paper for printing, or pick up 2 or 3 at a time. The fix?

    I give HP credit, they did offer a fix. But it involved a scary piece of software and an even scarier piece of hardware with steel wool pads (I'm not kidding) you had to insert into the feed rollers -- and when all was done, you had a better performing (not perfect) printer and a heck of a mess to clean up. (Though I did get a free dental appointment once by bringing in my contraption and applying the HP "fix" to their HP printer!)

    An anomaly?, a tiny blip on the radar? Nope. The next printer I bought, also HP Deskjet, fell apart so many times because of cheap plastic assembly I became an expert in the insides of the machine.

    Still, I faithfully recommended HP printers to friends and family, but there were a disturbingly large and consistent number of "incidents" with these new printers. They were either balky in their performance, had ink problems, were virtually impossible to install, or keep installed. I gave up on HP about three or four years ago. Sadly, it's tinged my opinion of HP in general, from HP-UX, to HP-41X RPN calculators, probably unfairly since I think they still make some of the best electronics.

    HP decided to go the route of making money on their printer ink, and sell their printers sometimes below cost -- that's kind of the disposable razor idea -- not necessarily a bad idea, but if it comes at the sacrifice of making reliable printers, I'm out.

    HP's obsession with cost cutting, chasing down patent cheaters, etc., these are not the signatures of a class technology company.

    • by Cybert4 (994278) *
      This is just lame. Desperation, not innovation. Why can't they just charge more for the printer? I'd pay more for a printer with better ink capacity and lower ink costs. The disposable razor IS a bad idea. It will only lead to crap like this.
      • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:31PM (#16001322) Homepage Journal
        Why can't they just charge more for the printer?
        They *do*. (Or at least, they did.) I bought an HP printer for home a few years ago because I wanted quality, not some POS Lexmark. It cost quite a bit more than the Lexmark, but I was certain it was worth it.

        Guess what happened?

        Yep, it fell apart. Within six months, too. The printer was in a completely unfixable state as the head no longer moved on the track. I tried to find the problem, but eventually just gave up and threw it away. I then bought a cheap Lexmark that has been working ever since. (And God do I wish I could get rid of printers altogether. I use it so rarely that I get maybe 50 pages out of a $40 cartridge! %#@$# ink "lifetime" timers.)

        Basically, HP cashed in on their reliability reputation, and is now paying the price.
        • by pixelpusher220 (529617) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:38PM (#16001369)
          Um, buy a laser?

          I won't be buying another ink-jet printer....ever*. I wouldn't even get 50 pages out of the inks before it clogged and reported problems, or 'empty'.

          I have a solid Samsung Laser (1610 maybe?) I bought 5 *years* ago. Still going strong. only B & W but hey, I don't need color all that often (that's what work is for...ha).

          My next purchase will be a laser 'all in one' that will be B & W too. Mostly because I'm not ready to shell out $500-700 for the all in one color monsters for my own small needs.

          *Unless you need to do uber-quality photo prints, ink-jets are relics.


          • Um, buy a laser?

            Now that you mention it, that's exactly what I'm thinking of doing. Color doesn't matter much to me, so I've been seriously considering an inexpensive B&W laser. I used to use one from Epson when I was a kid, and I'd get thousands of pages out of a single toner cartridge! (Ah yes, the days when technical documents were long and screen space was short.)

            Unfortunately, I keep trying to wish the printer out of my life. Invariably, something comes along that requires it, so I'm back to square

            • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:57PM (#16001524) Homepage Journal
              "Now that you mention it, that's exactly what I'm thinking of doing. Color doesn't matter much to me, so I've been seriously considering an inexpensive B&W laser."

              Shoot, go on eBay and look for a used laser, you can get them a dime a dozen.

              Also, if you choose carefully, and get the same models they use where you work....you'll never have to buy toner again.

              :-P

          • by Rix (54095)
            I'm not defending inkjets in any way, but the cartridges that come with them usually aren't intended to last more than 50 pages. Its a sample.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by AKAImBatman (238306) *

              the cartridges that come with them usually aren't intended to last more than 50 pages.

              You're telling me that a $40 cartridge I purchase at Office Depot is a sample?

              I didn't think so. The reason why I only get 50 pages is because I rarely print anything. So the printer decides that the "lifetime" of the ink is expiring [about.com], so it goes ahead and shuts down the cartridge or uses more ink.

          • by pete6677 (681676)
            I still have my HP inkjet from 1997 (722C). I'm keeping the damn thing until it dies, which will hopefully be a long time *knock on wood*. I paid $350 for it and it was built SO much better than any of the ink cartridge holding containers that they sell now. Oh how I wish they would go back to making printers like this. I used to recommened HP to everyone I knew, since they were much better than shitty Canon which was the #2 seller at the time. Now I'd probably either buy a laser or just get the cheapest Le
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            *Unless you need to do uber-quality photo prints, ink-jets are relics.

            That should read "Even if you need to do uber-quality photo prints".

            In the last couple of years all the places that offer photo services have gone out and bought really expensive commercial printers to run off everyone's digital pictures. These things are self calibrating and completely automated. You send your carefully cropped and adjusted jpg to the pimply faced youth at Costco with the box "no auto correction" checked, specify the p

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by dgatwood (11270)

              Actually, we did the math a few months ago. If all you print are 4x5 prints, then yes, it is cheaper at places like CostCo, but those places overcharge so obscenely for 8x10 prints that the cost of printing with an inkjet printer is a fraction of the cost of sending it out.

              Not to mention that there is a delay associated with having someone print your photos and the added effort of going to the store to pick them up. This means that you basically need to send it in quantities for it to make sense. Havin

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Copid (137416)
            Ding! That's the solution I opted for years ago, and I've never looked back. As a general rule of thumb (with the exception of professional grade inkjets that graphics shops use):

            Inkjet printers are designed to do one thing and one thing only: They turn full ink cartridges into empty ones. Any printing that is done in the process is incidental.

            Once mankind comes to terms with this fact and decides that the companies that design and sell them should not be rewarded, life will be better for all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MindStalker (22827)
        I'd pay more for a printer with better ink capacity and lower ink costs.

        Surprisingly I've found the Dell Color Lasers to fit this bill.

        I have a 3010cn that while the initial purchase was close to $600 the ink last forever and is fairly cheap. BTW when you goto purchase price the ink seperate from the machine, option to purchase the ink at the same time charges you a whole lot more for some reason.

        Even still it may seem like a lot of money for ink but realize each cartridge is 2000 pages of JUST THAT COLOR.
        • by Rich0 (548339)
          Prices have dropped A LOT. I got a 3100cn for $300 shipped. Hard to beat that even with a higher-end inkjet. That toner will last forever too - cost per page has to be 1/10th ink.
        • Yeah, I bought a HP Color Laserjet 3500 for about $750 a few years back - and it came with 4 "real" toner cartridges (not the 1/4 capacity "starter" toners that a lot of lasers include with purchase) - 1 black and 3 color - that cost over $500 retail - so really I only paid $250 for the printer... It also came with an external jetdirect controller to make it a real easy network printer.
        • Last I checked Dell printers were mostly rebranded Lexmarks (a brand I'll never buy again due to general crappy quality and bogus DMCA claims). Does anyone know if this is still the case or not?
      • 1) People are stupid. They look at the immediate up-front costs when making purchasing decisions (cost of acquisition, or CoA), rather than the long-term costs of operating the item through its lifetime (total cost of ownership, or TCO).

        2) Insurance (or lack of). A printer that costs $100-$300 is usually below most people's threshold to purchase insurance, but above their threshold to purchase a replacement should it break down (i.e. they'll try to get it fixed). A business operates with a larger budge

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:22PM (#16001270) Homepage
      So, now HP needs to chase down violators to protect itself. If only HP had continued to pay attention to quality, maybe HP would not need to worry about this kind of activity.

      Well, given that 80% of their $5.6 billion in operating profit (from TFA) is derived from ink and toner, they are not going to allow it to slip away. Otherwise they could potentially lose about $4bn in profit.

      I'm not defending it, cause I don't agree with it. But they're not going to let that bone go any time soon.

      Cheers.
      • by hackstraw (262471) *
        Well, given that 80% of their $5.6 billion in operating profit (from TFA) is derived from ink and toner, they are not going to allow it to slip away. Otherwise they could potentially lose about $4bn in profit.

        I'm not defending it, cause I don't agree with it. But they're not going to let that bone go any time soon.


        But the thing is that people are getting pissed off at the cheap, but low quality hardware and the chronic extortion-like scheme for keeping ink and toner in the printers.

        So, for yet another poor
        • by gstoddart (321705)
          But the thing is that people are getting pissed off at the cheap, but low quality hardware and the chronic extortion-like scheme for keeping ink and toner in the printers.
          Of course we are. But, when they practically give away printers for about $50 when you buy a new camera, PC, or whatever, it seems a grand deal until you spend as much on your first ink catrridge as you did on the printer. Then it doesn't look so good.

          But, if you were to spend $200 on a printer vs $50, would the cost of ink go down any?
      • by garcia (6573)
        Well, given that 80% of their $5.6 billion in operating profit (from TFA) is derived from ink and toner, they are not going to allow it to slip away. Otherwise they could potentially lose about $4bn in profit.

        And that is exactly why I buy a new HP deskjet printer every single time it runs out of ink. They are $10 less than a new print cartridge and I *usually* end up with a free USB cable out of the deal.

        I bought an HP Deskjet 400C on the first day of college in 1997. It worked for 5 years. While printin
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:32PM (#16001336)
      I was at Fry's Electronics recently and checked out some of the printers. Apparently, you can buy a Canon printer for roughly the price of an HP printer.

      What is interesting is that the replacement ink cartridge for Canon costs 67% less than the replacement ink cartridge for HP. The sales critter explained that the HP cartridge is actually integrated into a new printer head: the net is that you must buy both the replacement ink and a new printer head, resulting in the higher cost.

      However, printer heads generally last a long time. In the long run, you will save substantial money if you buy the Canon printer.

      The Canon printers must be hurting HP in less-affluent countries: Thailand, Eastern Europe, etc.

      For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for HP.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by kirun (658684)
      This is happening with all printer makes. I used to trust Epson printers - our C42UX is a complete joke. The heads clog all the time, and all printouts are for some reason "dirty", with smears and marks all over them. It *feels* cheap. The supposedly premium Xerox at work has bugs in the print system that cause image corruption, colour "correction" that fixes photos to give people bright red faces, jams if you try to print forms on it (using regular paper), and a display that's supposed to report how far a
    • by Darth_brooks (180756) <clipper377@ g m a i l . com> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:39PM (#16001383) Homepage
      Inkjet printers are shit. They've pretty much always been shit, they will continue to be shit. It's the zen of printing. I've owned Epson's, Canon's, and I work on HP's for a living. HP is the best of a bad lot in inkjets. They're all cheaply made disposable electronics, plain and simple. There are no servicable parts outside of the cartridges and maybe, if you're lucky, the print head. So building in the level of quality a consumer should expect just isn't cost effective anymore. Oh how I wish it was....

      Now, when it comes to lasers, HP still makes some decent kit. But it's not 1993 anymore. You can't buy a full size Laserjet 4 and expect to run it for the next 12 years. But their big iron is still the class of the market. I've got 4050's and 8100's that have run in the millions of pages and are still faithfully chugging along. Even the smaller laserjets (the 1300 series in particular), while a royal PITA to work on, are for the most part are relieable. That's more than can be said for Lexmark, Tally, or any of the other builders. There have been debacles (Ever seen a laserjet 1100? Actually, ever seen a laserjet 1100 that's not in the process of being thrown from a rooftop?), but they're still the class of the industry, like it or not.

      I am just a bit sad that I think of HP as "the printer guys." Back in the day they were all about innovation. we're having good luck with their switches, maybe there's still hope.
      • by Rich0 (548339) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:53PM (#16001490) Homepage
        Couldn't agree more regarding inkjets in general. I was getting sick of spending $100/yr in ink easily (only expected to increase as kids advance in school), constant head cleaning operations (using more ink!), and calls from home while at work over printer issues.

        I resigned to buying a laser - even at the loss of color. Then I discovered that color lasers are now affordable - I was shocked to be able to buy a Dell color laser for $300 shipped (no tax). Toner should last about as long as the printer at the rate we print - we have photos printed at walmart since it is generally cheaper and quality is superior. Only a few cents per page even in color.

        Inkjets don't make sense any more - sometimes you have to spend money to save it - and you don't need to spend all that much...
      • by gstoddart (321705)
        They've pretty much always been shit, they will continue to be shit. It's the zen of printing.
        //begin pedantry

        Perhaps you mean it's the Tao (way) of printing in that is the way things work and we must deal with them.

        Zen doesn't mean what you seem to want it to in that context. :-P
         
        //end pedantry

        Cheers
      • by LehiNephi (695428)
        Yes, the old Laserjets were practically indestructible. My parents bought a Laserjet 4p with their first PC (a Packard Bell with a Pentium 90) back in ....I think it was 94. That printer, with it's four-whopping-pages-per-minute, is still going strong, twelve years later. And my parents print more than your average user.
    • I agree with you complete. I had a Deskjet 1100, and after a while it started grabbing multiple sheets of paper. And it didn't just grab them all at once...that wouldn't have been so bad. Instead, it grabbed 4 or 5 sheets all ofset by 1/2 to 1 inch, so that it ruined all of the sheets at once. It also had a tendancy to print slightly (but noticeably) crooked on every single page. After I ditched that for a canon, I gave it to my wife. She's still using it now, but it's to the point that you can NEVER place
  • by rackhamh (217889) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:19PM (#16001238)
    This just goes to show that software should not be paten... oh. Nevermind.
  • . . . from my grubby ink-stained hands.

    Um, seriously, I don't have the slightest sympathy for HP. Look at ad circulars from electronics places. If they have a sale or a coupon for ink carts, there's generally fine print at the bottom: "HP excepted."
  • Um.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zyl0x (987342) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:21PM (#16001256)
    Are we supposed to feel sorry for them?
    • by creimer (824291)
      So why was this modded as flamebait? The only reason they are still in business is because of their reputation for printer quality and customer lock-in on overpriced ink. This is not the HP of yesteryear. This HP should've died in the marketplace if it wasn't for their printer division. I'm not feeling sorry for them at all.
  • by pyros (61399) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:22PM (#16001267) Journal
    I wish their market share would either reach monopoly status or dwindle into distant hopeful, but not niche status. If they were a monopoly, we could all band together and sue them into licensing 3rd party cartridges. If their market share dropped significantly, they would need a competetive edge, and probably at least reduce the price of their own cartridges. If they were a niche market they could keep prices artificially high due to lack of competition.
  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:23PM (#16001273)
    A friend of mine recently discovered that it was cheaper to buy her same model printer on sale than to buy a replacement cartridge for her existing printer. She couldn't bring herself to toss a perfectly good printer just to get the cartridge cheaper, but the temptation was there. I'll bet many other people don't have the same compunctions about this sort of waste.
    • by frieked (187664) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:30PM (#16001320) Homepage Journal
      Read the fine print... most of those cheapo printers usually only come with half-capacity ink cartridges as 1: a means of cutting costs and 2: to prevent people who are willing to just toss the perfectly good printer just because of cheaper cartridge costs.
      • True... I got a Samsung laser printer on sale from Best Buy...(I needed a printer and I REFUSE to ever get an inkjet again as long as I live). The included cartridge was 500 sheets. The replacement toner cartridge was 2000 sheets, and cost as much as the printer's sale price.

        BUT...how long is that 500 cartridge going to last me? I've printed maybe 30 sheets off it so far and I've had it over half a year. At this rate, my starter cartridge will probably die of old age before I run it dry.

        I could underst
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by rodgster (671476) *
        Is the ink cartridge half full or half empty?

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Jtheletter (686279)
          Is the ink cartridge half full or half empty?

          As an engineer I'm inclined to say it's improperly designed!
    • by Amouth (879122)
      i doubt that was the case.. ever since HP started taking a a loss on the printer the new once come with smaller cartridges than the replace ment 1/2 to 1/4 the volume
    • Just to screw HP, we bought replacement inkjets as they came on sale (which placed them cheaper than the replacement ink).

      Then we started needing to do high quality work and switched to a Konica Minolta Magicolor 7450. The consummables are cheaper per page, and it even runs in Linux. Ever seen a printer with its own hard drive? It's just wicked cool.

      We haven't looked back at HP since.
      • Gah, you got lucky then. We have a Konica Minolta (forget exactly which model) with a Fiery X3e print controller (runs Linux!). Piece of crap doesn't have a working DHCP client so we were forced to make it be the only statically assigned IP in the company. Even then every few days it simply stops working and requires a power cycle to get the print controller back on the network. Minolta's been out a dozen times to look at it and have never been able to get it working acceptably.

        We also have a bunch of B
    • by Rix (54095)
      They've dealt with that. Printers only come with a 'sample' cartridge now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...you prove you are more interested in litigation than innovation.
  • They giving one of them for every computer they sold and with almost every computer other company seld.
    When I buy a computer, the one that come with a free HP printer is cheaper than the same computer without the printer.
    I take the printer, print some picture, and when the ink are empty.. I got another printer.
    Anyway, I have a cheap and good samsung laser printer for the real thing, and printer photo at pro store are cheaper than printing it at home expectaly with HP ink price !
  • by SpecTheIntro (951219) <spectheintro&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:25PM (#16001285)

    Really, could HP have more prominently declared that their traditional business model was failing miserably? After all, why try and provide a good or a service unsuccessfully, when you can just throw some patents around and generate instant income? The quality of HP products is no longer in question, because they've dealt their own credibility a far worse blow than any other competitor (or exploding battery) could ever do: they have consciously decided to invest in patent trolling, instead of spending that money on providing better products/service. Way to go, HP. Been taking business lessons from Sony?

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @02:28PM (#16001302)
    > Hewlett-Packard has deployed a large team consisting of many scientists and many more lawyers looking for possible ink patent infringement. With more than 4,000 patents on their ink formulations and cartridge design and a market share of more than 50 percent in the US HP depends heavily on the sale of ink to make profit after sometimes selling their printers at a loss in order to lock in the ink resale.

    I met a traveller from a silicon land
    Who said: Two life-sized cutouts of cardboard [ylem.org]
    Stand near Palo Alto. Near it, at 367 Addison Avenue [hp.com],
    Half sunk, a shatter'd garage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
    And on a pedestal in Cupertino these words appear:
    "My name is Carly Fiorina, queen of queens:
    Look on my works, Bill and David, and despair!"

    Nothing beside remains: round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, outsourced and bare,
    The stock options stretch far out of the money.

  • I swore off inkjets years ago when lasers became affordable, and it was clear that all the inkjet manufacturers had embraced the "printer at a loss/refill at a high markup" model.

    The only reason to use inkjets is if you got one free with your computer. And then use refill kits or off-brand ink (or toss the thing). And don't get me started on how stupid photo printers are.

  • The quality nowadays SUCKS. They seem to all be cheap, plastic pieces of shit that you must replace after a year when some tiny plastic piece inside breaks and is unrepairable. The ink also is a pain in the ass unless you do a whole lot of printing because if it sits for too long (in my experience a month or two) it dries up. The last ink jet I had was a canon and it went bad about 4 years ago and I replaced it with a used BW laser printer since most of my printing does not use color anyway. I am still
  • I was at the local Staples and asked a kid working there why there was no price on a certain HP printer. Apparently an HP rep had walked by there earlier that day and ripped off the price tag since he reduced the pricing given that they had a newer model so they were trying to get rid of the older model. He also increased the ink for that same model.

    Talk about revenue maximization - short term at least.

    So they are in essence selling ignorant consumers on "cheap" ink then jack up prices later on. They really
  • 1. Patent the inks.
    2. Patent a process to compare competing inks for patent violations.
    3. Patent a process for extracting money from competitors for patent violations.
    4. Piss off all of your customers.
    5. Profit?
    • by eneville (745111)
      1. Patent the inks.
      2. Patent a process to compare competing inks for patent violations.
      3. Patent a process for extracting money from competitors for patent violations.
      4. Piss off all of your customers.
      5. Profit?
      You forgot 0.5 patent the process for creating ink patents and 5.5 patent the process of profit from ink patents.
  • So rather than research how to come up with a better strategy than the sell the ink and give away the printer approach. They put their money into hiring scientists and lawyers and to go after small companies because they are selling ink for the printers. Whats next? Go after Epson because their printers kind of look like the ones we make.

    This should be an episode of "The Office"
  • Maybe they can go after Walgreens for putting ink-refilling stations in all their stores. I hate those bastards.
  • Honestly, most of my printing is printing expense reports and airline ticket receipts; I do much "personal" printing. Why do people need to print that much? I gotta say that most of what people print is a waste. I've used maybe 3 printer cartridges in about 6 years. Now, I did spend a bundle to replace my print heads, but that is what you get when you buy a printer for US$50 on ebay when it retails for 200. But seriously, who in consumer world needs to print so much that they go through a significant n
    • by edmicman (830206)
      I can't say I print much of anything now, but back in school I'd print A LOT. You know, term papers, research reports, presentations, notes, etc. I'm thinking students drive a lot of the personal printing market.
    • by Nurgled (63197)

      Indeed. I haven't had a printer for about six years now, since my cheap Canon inkjet printer ran out of ink and I binned it when I moved house. I can't say I miss it. The only times I can think of when I could have used a printer are when I needed to refer to some information away from the computer, but I find a small notepad and a pen work just fine in most of these cases. (I've been using the same notepad for the past few years, too, and I've used less than half of the sheets in it.)

  • When my last HP printer crapped out on me, I was upset. Upon investigation, I discovered that the black cartridge had been leaking ink from its resting position for what must have been a long time. It clogged the gears and stopped the whole machine. The printer was also assembled in such a way that it could not possibly be opened without destroying it: they used some weirdly shaped screw heads and many places were snapped together, plastic into metal and such. Basically, I had only one option.

    My friend

  • Have two now, trashed a third. All have trouble printing at intervals. That is, it's often weeks before I want to print something in color again. Pretty much means a new cartridge or a cleaning expedition every time I want to print a page in color.
    Besides, the HP software is horrible.

    Anyone know of a good, reasonably priced, networked color laser?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mi.mao (927873)
      This company really sucks now.

      I used to recommend HP to all my customers and even family and friends, but that changed about a years ago, when my expensive HP 2000c colour printer, refuse to print.

      After investigating I found out that the HP cartridges have a chip that records the installation date and regardless of the ink levels will stop printing after x months.

      This really anyone me, I felt that HP were stealing my hard earned cash, by stopping me using the full level of ink in my (property) cartridges

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rich0 (548339)
      My Dell 3100cn works great and was on sale for $300 shipped. Did well on reviews and cost per page is 1.5/4.5 cents (BW/Color). Networked and handles PCL 6 - didn't advertise PS but it actually seems to work for me (unless CUPS is translating). In any case, got it working with linux which is no small feat in general (foomatic is about as easy to set up as it sounds like it should be)... :)

      Really designed to be a workgroup printer and it is a bit large, but the footprint isn't really all that much larger
  • My primary printer is an HP Color LaserJet 2550L. While the lack of built-in paper tray sucks, the print quality is simply amazing. Bought it for 400$CAD more than a year ago. It was on sale because the new replacement model was coming soon, I guess. My secondary printer is also my fax machine. An HP LaserJet 3015. I've had both for more than a year and I've had no problems so far.

    Inkjet printers? Forget about those. Companies sell them at cost (or even at loss) so you'll end up paying way more than laser (
  • I know it sounds crazy, but if HP are so upset that people don't use their inkjet cartridges, perhaps they should make them affordable and reasonably priced to begin with. In other words dump the razor blade model, dump the expensive "chipped" refills and just sell things at an honest price. If the printer is any good and has cheap ink it will sell just as well. Hell, what's to stop them even selling their own refill kits?

    HP are just pissed that others only supply kits because printer ink refills are absu

  • Even if we buy the idea that magical ink is 'better' HP and every other printer manufacturer goes out of their way and back again to create a slightly different cart for each and every printer model they make. Epson though I like them are horrible for this. Models in the same model family like the C82, 84, 86, 88 which are all essentially newer models of the same printer all use different ink carts. Lexmark? same thing. HP? Ditto and so on.

    And guess what - just when people began all getting what are basical
  • This shouldn't be news to anyone in the industry that's been on the recieving end of their litigation. They have done this in the past to bankrupt small-time developer/marketers thereby consolidating their position. Adobe did it to Macromedia years ago.

    This is a new kind of hostile business climate in America. The tax environment and regulatory oversight is certainly less than prior decades, but it seems the business environment is even more hostile with big business being able to easily dictate market c
  • by Electrawn (321224) <{electrawn} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @03:34PM (#16001796) Homepage
    I heard once Ink was priced more than its weight in gold, however gold has been steadily moving up...and I am lazy to do the math.

    It does seem to be more than a good champagne: http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/07/ 03/2037207 [slashdot.org]

    Considering ink was one of mankinds first inventions, somewhere after the spear, fire and the wheel, basing/monopolizing a business on that is either pure genious or complete insanity.

  • by HungWeiLo (250320) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @03:37PM (#16001814)
    HP Ink for a DeskJet model - $20 / 11 milliliters = $1.82 per milliliter
    Dom Perignon - $145 / 750 milliliters = $0.19 per milliliter
  • Use a Laserjet (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Nonillion (266505) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @03:45PM (#16001877)
    I don't use HP Inkjet printers any more. I used to have a HP 712C, every time I would print something the CPU resources would stay at 100% till the print job was done. Also I always seemed to run out of ink half way through the print job. Now I use an old HP Laserjet 4+, a good old reliable work horse. Plus a new toner cartridge is about the same price as HP's over priced ink and prints about 20 times more pages between toner cartridge changes.

    If I need something printed in color I just print it out at work on a color laser printer or take it to Office Depot.

  • Hold yer horses (Score:5, Informative)

    by gtmaneki (992991) on Tuesday August 29, 2006 @04:41PM (#16002282) Journal
    I'm a chemist for a company that makes formulations for the papermaking, mining, and oilfield industries, and I do a lot of work analyzing chemical patents. After reading this article, I see two cases: one full of BS and one that msy sctually be legit.

    Case 1. HP suing people for violating their "cartridge design" patents. Without hearing anything else, this sounds like HP's suing people who make replacement cartridges that fit their systems (including any chipping), which sounds pretty low. We've seen this once with Lexmark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexmark_Int'l_v._Sta tic_Control_Components), but Lexmark sued on the basis of copyright and DMCA violation, not patent violation. You mechanical, electrical and computer engineers in the audience can talk about this one better than I can.

    Cases 2. HP suing people for violating their ink formulations. (All that stuff about using GC, the "egg yolk" test, etc.) Here HP may not be full of BS. Inks aren't as simple as you might think -- they are highly engineered formulations that must disperse into tiny droplets for spraying by the ink jet, they must not bleed, they must not fade in light, etc. This is on my turf, so I'll lecture for a bit.

    The inks are made from specific combinations of pigments and dyes, which could have been used for centuries or been made in a lab last week. The dyes and pigments are then mixed with other chemicals that will disperse them in a solution and keep them from settling over time. The pigment, dye, or dispersant can be a new chemical substance and granted a material patent. The specific combination of ingredients, including how they are mixed together, can be granted a process patent.

    Unlike software patents, the patents in the paragraph above cover tangible things (pigments, dispersants, dyes, and formulations). They can be circumvented and you can prove if you are infringing or not with some straightforward lab tests. Some simplistic examples: If HP has a patent on an ink that is 25% A, 50% B, and 25% C, I can sell an ink that is 50% A, 30% B, and 20% C and not infringe. If the dye molecule in HP's material patent absorbs at 590-610 nm and the dye molecule I sell absorbs at 550-585 nm, I am not infringing. Smart companies change the competitor's formula just enough to avoid violating patents, while being able to have approximately the same performance.

    HP may find people copying their patented chemicals or formulations and prosecute them to he fullest extent of the law. They may find instead competing companies coming out with similar but noninfringing products at a low price that the consumer actually likes. In that case, hopefully the market will clear things up instead of a bunch of suits.

    (Of course the cynic in me thinks they'll still sue the people who are not infringing their material or process patents in the hope of intimidating them.)

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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