HP and Staples Charged With Breaking Antitrust Law

A U.S. man has filed suit against office-products retailer Staples Inc. and printer manufacturer Hewlett-Packard Co. in federal court today, charging that the two companies broke antitrust laws in collaborating on the sale of replacement ink-jet printer cartridges. In a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, Ranjit Bedi charged that they had reached "an illegal agreement between competitors to stop competing" when HP paid Staples, the biggest U.S. specialty retailer of office supplies, "market development funds" to stop selling non-HP-branded ink-jet printer cartridges for HP printers.

The suit contends that HP, the world's largest personal computer maker, paid Staples more than $100 million to stop selling lower-priced printer cartridges for HP printers, though how Bedi, of Pacific Palisades, California, determined the $100 million number remains unclear. The suit, which seeks class-action status, claims that the actions violated the Sherman Act and Clayton Act, which prohibit noncompetitive behavior and seeks unspecified money damages, as well as asking the court to stop HP and Staples from engaging in noncompetitive acts.

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I think it is a bad saga to believe that the manufacturers cartridges are the best. In Germany, several very reputable long established companies (older than HP, Canon or any of the others) sell OEM cartridges usually for half price. Many tests have shown, that those were superior to the originals in many cases. An HP exec told me a while ago that most money is being made with the cartridges. They are just gouging us. I refill mine myself. Costs me about $10 per year - and I print a lot of color pictures.

It would be pretty pointless for HP to do this. Have you every tried a non-brand inkjet refill? Total garbage.

There's a good reason manufacturers recommend you use only their own ink. If you are so desperate to save a couple dollars you will pay for it in reduced quality. But it is up to the customer to decide that for themselves.

Yeah, something needs to be done about the ink cartel. There's no way what they are doing should be legal.

I gave up on inkjets. Tried those refilled cartridges you can get, the things leaked out all over the place. I went back to a black and white laser printer for all my text stuff, and if I want photos printed I just take my flash card to the store and use the kiosk. It's a bit more trouble, but I rarely print photos and I have to go to the store anyway. It's a lot cheaper than buying ink and photo paper.

This is a perfect example of a variation of illegal "price fixing". I'm glad the guy won his case because things like this really tick me off.

I can't believe other people here think the guy was wrong or out for money. The printer companies are stealing from customers in overpriced ink cartridges. They even go out of their way to try and prevent people from refilling them... I believe Epson has filed lawsuits against several ink refill sellers.

huh? I can buy low cost Staples brand and other brand HP ink cartridges at my local Staples... they have them there right now!

I decided a long time ago that if I wanted the company from whom I buy my printers to continue making top of the line products, then I'd better be buying their ink and toner and let them make their profit. Besides, HP ink really is top quality, and using third-party ink will likely as not screw up your printers.

So for you, if a company makes a good product it's ok for them to break the law?

That some flocked up way of looking at reality..

Boz said,
So for you, if a company makes a good product it's ok for them to break the law?

I strongly suggest you bone up on your reading skills. Maybe a remedial reading course would be appropriate?

how Bedi, of Pacific Palisades, California, determined the $100 million number remains unclear

It's probably on the corporation's financial statement. They have to disclose stuff like that.