In precedent-setting Lexmark vs Impression case in May 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that companies give up their patent rights when they sell an item. This ruling puts new limits on businesses’ ability to prevent their products from being resold at a discount. The ruling is a major defeat for Lexmark International, which was trying to stop refurbished versions of its printer cartridges from undercutting its U.S. sales. On the other hand, it’s a big win for consumers to have the right to refill ink cartridges.
HotHardware reported: “Lexmark originally set its sights on Impression Products, a small company that specializes in remanufacturing print cartridges for resale at prices much lower than what a customer would pay for a “genuine” Lexmark product. These cartridges often have no noticeable difference in performance compared to genuine ink or toner cartridges — the only real difference is that customers can save a lot of money by going the remanufactured route. This secondary market for cartridges not only has implications for regular Joes looking to save a buck, but also businesses that are always looking to cut costs.”
This precedent-setting decision will save consumers money to avoid buying overprice ink cartridges. It’s also a blow to companies like HP and Canon that sell their printers for a relatively low cost with the idea that they will recoup money on sales of replacement cartridges.
The unanimous ruling to protect consumers’ right to refill ink cartridges by US Supreme Court sends a strong message to various industries that sold products are not owned by the seller after the sale. It will benefit customers for years to come.