Print News: Ink Manufacturer Lets Technology Website Behind the Scenes
A recent feature on Techradar.com looks into the technology behind printing company HP’s range of ink cartridges. The story reports the technical details of HP’s manufacturing processes, and boasts some impressive statistics. For example, the reporter Dan Grabham observes that: ‘The precision needed for an inkjet nozzle to work is like dropping a grape from a 30-story building and hitting a bucket on the pavement below.’ Certainly a very precise process!
The technology website’s story marks the argument for OEM cartridges. HP’s Pat Harnett tells Techradar’s writer that ‘The physics of what happens inside a printer is quite extraordinary,’ and the article is at pains to demonstrate the technical complexity of HP’s cartridges. Though centered on a ‘manufacturing facility’ at HP’s Dublin operation, the facility resembles a mad scientist’s lab. The reader is left in no doubt of how seriously HP takes ink production.
HP’s own website outlines what it considers the benefits of its own OEM cartridges; though whether the guarantee of a quality product compensates for the inflated cost of HP’s cartridges is another matter. OEM cartridges can cost up to 86% more than non-branded ink equivalents at Clickinks.com
Print News: Judge Rules on Lexmark Remanufactured Ink Court Case
Recently a seven year court battle between Lexmark
and a North Carolina-based company that enables compatible ink cartridges reached its final ruling. In December 2002, Lexmark sued Static Control Components for infringing on a computer program contained in its ink cartridges that made the printer inoperable, if it were found to be operating through ink cartridges refilled by companies other than Lexmark itself. Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled that their circumvention of Lexmark’s chip does not violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, meaning that the manufacturer may continue its activities.
The case originated in part because of the Lexmark Return Program: an initiative where consumers who sent their emptied cartridges, like the Lexmark 28A
, back to Lexmark, instead of third-party businesses, received a substantial discount on future purchases. Supplementing this program with consumers, Lexmark programmed their ink cartridges to become inoperable if the ink cartridge refill occurred outside Lexmark’s premises. The program undercut the remanufacturing industry, which depends on empty cartridges, and resulted in fewer Lexmark cartridges getting recycled.
Static Control Components, a business that doesn’t itself sell compatible ink cartridges, but makes microchips for the remanufacturing industry, responded to Lexmark with the production of a ‘Smartek’ program that nullifies Lexmark’s restrictions. The chip included its own version of Lexmark’s ‘Toner Loading Program’. The company began shipping its microchip in 2002.
Lexmark’s lawsuit against the company was filed on the premise that the North Carolina-company had copied its ‘Toner Loading Program,’ and had violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Introduced in May 2001, this legislation was meant to protect the intellectual property of persons creating in a primarily digital medium. It is notable that Lexmark could not sue them for countermanding an initiative designed to undercut its competitors in the remanufacturing circuit, since this would violate competition laws. Lexmark’s attempts to prevent compatible ink cartridges from being produced through another manufacturers chip amounts to the same thing.
After a prolonged court battle extending not only from the Federal Court of Kentucky but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, it has now been ruled that Lexmark’s ‘Toner Loading Program’ does not amount to copyright-able property. Rather, the DMCA was meant to protect creative expression in film and music mediums and cannot be easily applied to a computer program or printer cartridge. Today’s decision amounts to a victory for the remanufacturing industry, which has enjoyed a contentious relationship with major brands while recycling ink cartridges
No one ever said it was easy to stay within budget in politics. However, a local official of Middlesex, Mass. was recently convicted of employing unconventional means to increase his gains. The bostonchannel.com
reports that John Buonomo, 56, ‘a career politician’ was taped accessing the copier machine to take the office revenue. He repeated this eighteen times over a three month period, in addition to stealing $102,792 from campaign buckets meant as donations.
Buonomo has twice campaigned to become Mayor of Somerville, and ‘spent years working for state and local governments.’ According to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard Leone: ‘This is a brazen violation of public trust,’ serving to undermine the already shaky relation between voters and their public officials. Among the list of Buonomo’s offence: larceny, the wilful misleading of interrogators, theft of public property, and personal use of campaign funds. He is expected to serve a thirty month sentence.
This is not the only case of ink-related larceny to occur this year. In April, Ayad Al-Musawi of Aloha was convinced of stealing Xerox
ink sticks and selling the cartridges on Ebay. Portlandtribune.com
reported that Al-Musawi was found in possession of 9946 ink sticks by police, amounting to $275,000 in value. Meanwhile, lawyers.com
yesterday reported about Kelly Marie Lipinski, a 41 year old woman accused of making almost $6000 in false ink cartridge returns. It seems where the printing industry is concerned, the entrepreneurial spirit will drive people to almost anything.