Lexmark has spent nearly 20 years fighting the war on carbon, trying to stop you from refilling your laser printer cartridges. In 2003, they attempted to use the DMCA and DRM to argue that it was an act of piracy (the courts didn’t buy it) and then in 2015, they went all the way to the Supreme Court with the idea that you were violating their patent license terms if you treated the cartridges you purchased as though you owned them.
[Tuesday], the Supreme Court told Lexmark it was wrong. Again. Saying that when a patent holder “chooses to sell an item, that product is no longer within the limits of the monopoly and instead becomes the private individual property of the purchaser, with the rights and benefits that come along with ownership.”
The Supremes were almost unanimous: Justice Ginsburg concurred in part and dissented in part, and Justice Gorsuch, who was not present for the original hearing, took no part in the decision.
Purely by coincidence, I spent Tuesday installing my first-ever third-party cartridges in one of my printers. Results were sort of meh.