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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