Lexmark sues 24 cartridge makers over patents

The printer maker, in suits filed with the ITC and a U.S. District Court in Ohio, accuses the 24 replacement laser cartridge manufacturers of violating 15 of its patents.

Printer manufacturer Lexmark is suing replacement cartridge makers that it says are infringing on its patents.

The Lexington, Ky.-based company on Friday filed a patent infringement complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. Both suits accuse 24 companies that import replacement cartridges for Lexmark laser printers of violating 15 patents owned by Lexmark.

Both suits name the same 24 defendants. The ITC complaint--the now-standard venue for taking patent disputes against companies that import goods to the United States--asks that the defendants' products be banned from import and sale in the States. The federal lawsuit asks for an injunction on sales of the disputed products, as well as monetary damages.

This is not the first time Lexmark has battled the aftermarket-printing industry. In 2003, Lexmark famously tried to invoke the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in an attempt to block a toner refill company from making replacement cartridges for Lexmark products.

Lexmark ultimately lost the case, but it hasn't been alone in its fight against cartridge makers. Hewlett-Packard has been similarly protective of its patents on ink formulas, filing several lawsuits over the past few years against third-party cartridge refill makers.

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