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HP sued over pre-programmed cartridges

Hewlett-Packard Corporation has been sued for allegedly including chips in its printer cartridges that instruct the cartridges to stop working on a pre-determined date even if they still contain ink, according to Reuters.23 Feb 2005

The suit, filed on Thursday by a Georgia woman in Santa Clara Superior Court, alleges that chips inserted into the cartridge to detect the ink level also ensure that the cartridges die on a set date, whether they are empty or not.

The suit seeks damages and class action status, covering all US citizens who have bought an HP inkjet printer since February 2001.

HP has not commented on the case.

Meanwhile, rival printer maker Lexmark has suffered its own legal setback this week. The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday that it would not reinstate a preliminary injunction ordering Static Control Components – a maker of microchips used in replacement laser printer cartridges – to stop making and selling its products.

Lexmark had sued the company in 2002, claiming that SCC's Smartek chips, which can be used in toner cartridges developed by Lexmark, violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law that makes it an offence to circumvent technological measures aimed to restrict access to copyrighted works.

The chips allow refurbished cartridges, rather than those supplied by Lexmark, to be used in Lexmark printers.

A District Court granted Lexmark an injunction in February 2003, but was overruled in October last year by the Court of Appeals.

The case is due to go to trial in December, but Lexmark had asked the Court to reinstate the injunction pending the trial. The Court has now refused.