Samsung stained by ink cartridge suit

Alleges that Samsung rigs its printers to tell consumers falsely that they need more ink

Electronics giant Samsung has been slapped with a lawsuit alleging that it "rigs" its printers to tell users falsely that they need to replace their ink cartridge even if there is plenty of toner left.

According to the suit, which was filed by the US-based consumer-law firm Kabateck Brown Kellner, Samsung designs its printers to flash an "empty" message and shut down, to notify users they need to replace their toner cartridge. The problem, alleges the suit, is that the printers will often flash "empty" and shut down even when there is a significant amount of toner left in the cartridge. The reason that Samsung has allegedly designed its printers this way is to make money by forcing consumers to purchase unneeded additional ink cartridges, which typically cost US$60 to $80, the suit contends.

Furthermore, the suit alleges that Samsung has never disclosed publicly "that a significant amount of useable toner remains in the Samsung-brand toner cartridges" when "the toner cartridge is 'empty' and in need of replacement."

"We're simply asking Samsung to be straight with its customers," says Darren Kaplan, a co-counsel on the case and a partner at the law firm of Chitwood Harley Harnes. "It's disappointing that it's taking a judge and a jury to make them do the right thing."

This is not the first time that Kabateck Brown Kellner has sued an electronics company for allegedly rigging its printers to require cartridge changes prematurely. Two years ago, the firm reached a settlement with electronics manufacturer Epson in a suit that made allegations like the ones the firm now is making about Samsung. Despite agreeing to settle for a compensation package valued at more than US$350 million, Epson maintained it had done nothing wrong and that it kept extra ink in its toner cartridges in order to "maintain print quality and reliability."

The firm has also made headlines this year for suing Apple for allegedly making false and misleading claims in the marketing of its iMac computer.

Responses to requests to Samsung representatives for comment were not immediately returned.

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Brad Reed

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