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 user 2005-04-01 at 10:03:00 am Views: 73
  • #29403
    HP Battles Cartridge Complaint

    A Woman has filed a class-action lawsuit against
    Hewlett-Packard in Santa Clara County Superior Court in northern California,
    alleging that HP’s ink cartridges that are embedded with smart chips mislead
    users into buying replacements even before the ink runs completely dry.

    The San Jose Mercury News identified the woman as Deborah Tyler of Norcross,
    Ga. Reuters news service said in its report that the suit seeks to represent
    anyone in the United States who purchased an HP inkjet printer since Feb. 2001.
    HP did not respond to HP World Magazine’s request for comment.

    According to HP’s Web site, the primary job of the smart chip technology is
    to keep the printer apprised of how much toner is left (measured in the number
    of sheets it can print).

    “High-tech monitoring means no more worrying or guessing when you’ll run out
    of toner,” HP says on the site. But the suit, Reuters said, claims those chips
    also shut down the cartridges at a predetermined date regardless of whether they
    are empty. “The smart chip is dually engineered to prematurely register ink
    depletion and to render a cartridge unusable through the use of a built-in
    expiration date that is not revealed to the consumer,” Reuters reported the
    lawsuit as claiming.

    The San Jose Mercury News said Tyler bought an HP 842C inkjet printer at Best
    Buy. It also said smart chips are used in HP’s consumer printers—HP Deskjet
    812C, 804C and 842C—and its commercial printers, 2000C and 2500C.

    ZDNet Australia reported last June that HP had plans to expand its smart chip
    technology into all its printer products. The smart chips, originally used only
    on high-end enterprise printers to determine available levels of remaining ink,
    will eventually be rolled out across HP’s full printer range, the report said.
    “We will ultimately introduce smart technology on all our supplies products,”
    the report quoted Vincent Vanderpoel, vice president for HP’s Asia-Pacific
    supplies business, as saying at a press gathering in Singapore.

    Static vs. Lexmark Meanwhile, a federal appeals court in late
    February, in an unrelated case, refused printer maker Lexmark International’s
    request to stop a North Carolina company from making and selling computer chips
    that allow recycled toner cartridges to work in Lexmark printers.

    Lexmark, based in Lexington, Ky., had claimed in a lawsuit filed against
    Static Control Components (SCC) on Dec. 30, 2002, that SCC’s Smartek 520/620
    chips violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

    In a preliminary injunction in March 2004, U.S. District Judge Karl Forester
    blocked Static Control from selling computer chips that match remanufactured
    toner cartridges for Lexmark printers. But a three-judge panel of the Sixth U.S.
    Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, while overturning Judge Forester’s order
    last October, ordered a new round of hearings in the case. The appeals court
    upheld its decision on Feb. 15.

    SCC General Counsel William London said in a statement, “The case is
    scheduled for trial in December of 2005 on what remains of Lexmark’s claims and
    on Static Control’s claims against Lexmark for violating several state and
    federal antitrust and anticompetitive statutes.”

    An AP report quoted London as saying, “They can ask the Supreme Court to
    consider the case, but no guarantee they will even hear the case. We are
    extremely pleased.”

    Added SCC CEO Ed Swartz, “This is a very gratifying decision. We feel public
    interest has been served by a knowledgeable court to not allow a greedy OEM to
    use the law to perpetuate an electronic monopoly. Consumers and justice have
    been served.

    “We have asserted from the outset that this is a blatant misuse of the DMCA.
    The Sixth Circuit’s ruling and the court’s decision not to hear Lexmark’s
    request for another hearing solidifies and supports our position that the DMCA
    was not intended to create aftermarket electronic monopolies,” said Swartz.

    The primary market for Static Control Components, which employs over 1,300
    people, is the laser toner cartridge remanufacturing market. Static Control
    supplies over 3,000 replacements parts to over 10,000 remanufacturers all over
    the world.