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By Rich Karpinski

In the news today, Staples and HP are getting sued for a deal they made in which Staples agreed not to sell generic brand inkjet printer cartridge refills for HP machines.


Ink Injection!


Chances are, your small business either got a printer thrown in as part of a PC bundle or you spent a few extra bucks to get one of those combo numbers that does printing, faxing and copying.

Either way, you got a deal on the printer because HP (or Canon or Lexmark or whatever company sold you your printer) now has you as a customer for life buying replacement ink cartridges.

So it should come as no surprise that HP is scheming to come up with ways to get you to buy your ink directly from them.

The alternatives include buying generic cartridges or going to one of those new-style stores that will refill your ink cartridge (the printer I use, the very nice HP C6180, apparently will reject refilled cartridges and Cartridge World won't even try to refill them).

Not sure how this lawsuit will work out, but it goes to show there's big money in those cartridges. A few years ago, Business Week detailed just how much money (more than 50% of HP's annual profit!) and more recently News.com tagged along to Cartridge World to get a look at the refill business.

Next time you plop down your credit card for an ink replacement, just know this -- they got you!

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