Thinking About Printer Ink

There is a fascinating new Supreme Court decision out on the printer ink market (!). The upshot: Complainants who want to sell replacement ink aren’t afforded as much protection as they might think under antitrust and antitying laws. Why not? Because it’s all about market power, or the relative absence thereof.

Over the years, this Court’s strong disapproval of tying arrangements has substantially diminished, as the Court has moved from relying on assumptions to requiring a showing of market power in the tying product.


  1. Not only did they rule in favor of the tying-good manufacturer, it was 8-0! Without knowing the facts, this seems to be a very similar case to Eastman Kodak v. Image Technical Services, but with the exact opposite outcome. Wow.
    The economist in me applauds this news as it embraces Chicago-school tying theory; the consumer in me shudders at the thought of having to buy Yet Another Overpriced Ink Cartridge. Maybe it’s time to switch to a laser printer at home.

  2. those judges clearly all own kyocera laserprinters…
    how can anyone defend ink that costs more than the same amount of champagne?

  3. Now I certainly hate paying (and currently don’t, i use the injectors) those rediculous ink cartridge prices as much as the next fellow HOWEVER, Who is the US Government to say that a company can not base a business model that Gilette or whomever pioneered in the US…If that is how consumers have the fastest uptake, so be it…
    MSFT controls how you use its software after you buy it, should HP have the same license?
    This might not be problem much longer as RFID chips become so inexpensive that cartridges might be easily ID’d as legit and only be used once.
    I use single color inkwells and don’t have this problem.