Toner Remanufacturing Industry, a Pro-Consumer Choice Business

August 27, 2009 5 Comments

Toner Remanufacturing Industry - Pro-Consumer Choice It’s true. The toner remanufacturing industry is a lucrative business. But more than that, it is a business that affords consumers more informed choices with regards to the use of their printers and other office machines.

Printer manufacturers sell affordable printer units but cash in on pricey original inks. Understandably, they would want consumers to patronize the original ink that they offer. This is when the toner remanufacturing industry gets in their way.


From frightening consumers with void warranties, commissioned surveys, proprietary chips & softwares and even lawsuits, manufacturers have found ways to keep toner remanufacturing off the printing supplies market.

Lexmark International came up with a Prebate program, offering discounted toner cartridges to customers who agree to use the cartridge once and then return the used cartridge to Lexmark. [Although Lexmark also offered regular priced cartridges], this is a clear means of discouraging competition and attempting to monopolize products.

In 2002, Static Control Components, Inc. (SCC) found a way for Lexmark printers to accept third-party ink that used to worked only with Lexmark’s original ink, aided by a propriety chip and software. Lexmark sued SCC. Thus, the landmark legal case between a toner remanufacturer and a printer manufacturer began.

Lexmark initially won in the district court which ruled that SCC violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act . SCC appealed to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which overturned the district court’s decision.

Judge Gilbert S. Merritt of the Court of Appeals, in his concurring legal opinion, aptly wrote “We should make clear that in the future, companies like Lexmark cannot use the DMCA in conjunction with copyright law to create monopolies of manufacturer goods for themselves“.

Most recently in March, the Eastern District Court of Kentucky granted SCC’s motion to reconsider the interlocutory order and found that Lexmark’s Prebate terms are not enforceable under patent law.

The two rulings in favor of SCC are not just key victories for the toner remanufacturing industry over a printer manufacturer. More importantly, it’s a victory for fair competition, pro-environment and pro-consumer choice.

Sources:
www.scc-inc.com
Wikipedia, Lexmark VS Static Control

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Toner Remanufacturing Industry, a Pro-Consumer Choice Business, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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5 Comments to “Toner Remanufacturing Industry, a Pro-Consumer Choice Business”
  1. Jay says:

    The whole story (not told in your blog) is that the Prebate program includes cartridges sold at regular prices (without the Prebate discount offered for the customers’ agreement to use the cartridge once and return it for recycling or remanufacturing). Those regular cartridges can be refilled/remanufactured by anyone without restrictions. Anyone who wants to refill, just needs to by the unrestricted cartridges instead of accepting the discount on the Prebate cartridges, agreeing to license terms, and then consciously violating those terms instead of returning the empty to Lexmark. Should also note that none of the court’s decisions invalidated the contract law that sustains the Prebate program.

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  2. Spectator says:

    Being a consumer, I would like to have as many options as possible.

    @ Jay
    This is not about specifics. The blog post is just recognizing/celebrating the favorable ruling to his/her industry. I see nothing wrong in him/her quoting the court decision. ( scanned copy/pdf version of the court ruling can be found if you click the source link).

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  3. Admin says:

    @ Jay
    I edited the blog post and added that Lexmark also offerred regular priced cartridges. Still, it was not enough to the judges who presided the appeal. Moreso with us.

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