HP goes to court over the price of ink

PC maker has started action in Germany to defend patents on 'ink formulations'
Written by Colin Barker, Contributor

HP said on Wednesday that it had filed a complaint in Germany against a manufacturer of DIY ink cartridges. The PC maker is claiming a violation of "HP ink patents".

As well as manufacturing DIY kits, where the customer buys tubes of ink that are then injected into HP cartridges, Korean-based InkTec also makes clones of HP cartridges themselves. But HP has chosen to take action over the use of the ink itself, rather than the use of cartridge clones.

HP said in a statement that the complaint was "for violation of HP patents for ink formulations". Inks contained in the DIY refill cartridge kits "are claimed to violate HP ink patents", the statement said.

"There is a lot of work that goes into the ink itself," a spokesman for HP said. "The type of ink use depends on the type of cartridge used and HP spends billions of dollars to get those ink formulations right." Consequently, the company "does not take these infringements lightly". To protect these patents, HP has filed the complaint through the court system in Germany where, the company said, the InkTec inks were found.

"As the global leader in the supplies industry, HP has always been committed to honest and fair competition in every country in which we do business," said Pradeep Jotwani, senior vice president for HP's supplies, imaging and printing group. "With more than 4,000 supplies patents, representing a deep heritage of innovation, research and development, HP will continue to vigorously defend intellectual property violations wherever and whenever they are discovered."

HP declined to offer any further details on the exact nature of the suit.

InkTec manufactures a wide range of suppliers and cartridges for Brother, Canon, Compaq, Dell, Epson, Kodak, Lexmark, Philips, Samsung and Xerox printers, as well as HP.

Typical InkTec prices are £8.99 for a 40ml HP black cartridge, and £12 for a 40ml colour cartridge. The company's DIY black ink kits cost £8.91 for 3x40ml refill packs, and colour DIY kits cost £8.91 for 3x20ml refill packs. This compares to £18 and £21 for official HP black and colour cartridges.

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