The most expensive liquids today are printer’s ink. An ounce of it ranges between $13 and $75. You can buy over 750 gallons of gas at the cost of one gallon of ink.
It is a usual practice you replace the cartridge once and again land up buying the next in the same month even if you don’t print too much. It seems ink is vanishing in a flash.
This is the reason several companies like Canon, Epson, Brother, and HP are trying to make the printer cartridge easy on the wallet. They buy off spent cartridges and thereafter refill it with fresh ink. Such cartridges are sold at lower price than the new one.
In 2013 Lexmark sued a business called Impression in Virginia which practiced the same by buying old cartridges and selling those at lower prices after refilling.
Lexmark argues Impression was violating the patient rights by refurbishing and reselling its cartridges without taking any permission.
The case is titled Impression Products v. Lexmark and Supreme Court has finally come up with its ruling. It was in favor of Impression saying patent rights of a company ends after the initial sale of a product. This means customers can do whatever one wishes to do.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said when a customer buys a product, it is his and his alone. So in the case of the print cartridge, the company cannot dictate a customer how to repair, modify, reuse or destroy the product as fully value have been given at the time of buying.
The court has to safeguard customers’ “right to tinker” and prevents patent holders from having control on how the printer can be refilled after the ink is exhausted.