Tortious interference, perhaps?
Most innovation consists of making marginal improvements to existing technology. Zink's particular implementation of the well-established technology of thermal dye-sublimation printing is a case in point.
Exclusivity in consumables is *not* protected by patents or copyrights on the device that does the consuming. Reverse-engineering for the purpose of creating compatible products is entirely legal. Some companies get around this by adding additional complexity which *can* be patented or copyrighted to the design of the consumables themselves. The patented technology in these cases is specifically the mechanism that creates vendor lock-in, and not something that contributes to the value-added function of the product for the customer.
I don't know if Zink's patent portfolio consists of these kinds of patents, or if they do indeed cover marginal improvements that make dye-sub printers smaller, cheaper, or more durable, but I do know that they didn't invent the underlying technology itself, and it's certainly plausible that they themselves are precisely "using everyone's work" to pursue a business model that relies on a captive audience for consumables. (Not to say they should be artificially stopped from doing so - just that if they decommoditize their consumables and charge too much for them, I won't use their products.)
I thought it was a well-known fact that Apple's more recent products have taken design cues from electronics of the '50s-'70s, especially Braun products designed by Dieter Rams.
I agree. I think modern social media have worked against the internet as a genuinely emergent social platform. The nature of the communities and the depth of the discourse on sites like Slashdot, HN, Ars Technica, even Reddit, the informal message boards and IRC channels, and many corners of the blogosphere, is giving way to the terse trivia of Twitter and Facebook.
It was a lot easier to deal with deliberate trolls and spammers than it is to sort the interesting and insightful from of mountains of genuinely stupid nonsense.
I think this is a core problem with monetizing social media in general.
In traditional media, you create and distribute content, and perhaps monetize it by delivering ads to your customers. Here, you as the media provider are engaged in a conversation with your users. Even if it's a bit of a one-sided conversation, the content stream that you are providing is what delivers value to the users, so if you can insert ads into that stream without driving customers away, you make a profit.
With social media, you are providing a platform upon which your users interact and communicate. They are there to converse with each other, not to consume your content stream. If you attempt to monetize your service by inserting your own content into the conversation, you are effectively *interrupting the conversation* and distracting them away from the activities that make them value the service in the first place.
The way Twitter, Facebook, etc. are attempting to monetize their services is less like interspersing a TV broadcast with commercials, and more like sitting down at someone's table in a restaurant and shouting "Hey! Look at me! Over here!". Facebook is a bit more clever about it, and design the structure of their service so that it generates a spamflood from the users themselves, but the end result is the same.
I don't think it's ever been very ambiguous. Once a hard drive is formatted, file sizes and available space are always reported in powers-of-two units by the OS. At the logical level, powers-of-ten units are simply not used.
Only some hard drive manufacturers have used the powers-of-ten definition; but hard drives always have less usable space than the advertised capacity, since they're reporting the physical capacity before the drive is formatted with a file system. Either way, users would still perceive a discrepancy between the space available to them and the number on the box.