Why The Supreme Court’s Ruling In Toner Cartridge Case Is A Win For Consumers

Read the full post at Consumerist.

“Patent exhaustion” isn’t exactly a thrilling pair of words. But that was the crux of a case the Supreme Court ruled on today that answered one incredibly important question for consumers: Can a company that sold you something use its patent on that product to control how you choose to use after you buy it?

Happily for consumers, the Court’s answer is, basically, “nope.”

The Court heard the case, Impression Products, Inc v Lexmark International, Inc, in March and issued a final ruling on the matter today.

The key question at play in the Lexmark case was one of patent exhaustion. Precedent has held that a patent-holder’s rights are used up — legally, exhausted — at the moment that it sells the thing it has a patent on to someone else. But in the modern era of microchips and DRM, some usage restrictions are suddenly enforceable long after an original item is sold. So question the Court was setting out to answer was: Can the company that sold you something it holds the patent on determine what you do with it after you’ve bought it, or do they exhaust their patent and therefore relinquish control?

That case was, basically, a dispute between a company that makes printers (Lexmark) and a third-party company that makes and refills ink and toner cartridges for use in printers (Impression Products).

Meet the $21 Million Company That Thinks a New iPhone Is a Total Waste of Money

Read the full story in Inc.

The guys behind iFixit want to show you how to fix everything from your iPhone to your toaster–for free. By doing so, they’ve built a huge business. Even though Apple totally hates them.

Sacramento Public Library Giving Away Prom Attire

Read the full story from Capital Public Radio.

Local teens looking to attend their prom won’t need to go far or pay a high price for their formal wear. That’s because the Sacramento Public Library is giving away free prom attire throughout March and April at various library locations.

At Repair Cafes, ‘Beloved but Broken’ Possessions Find New Life

Read the full story in the New York Times. If you’re in the Champaign-Urbana area, visit the Illini Gadget Garage to learn how to repair your broken electronic devices.

If you’ve ever despaired of getting your vacuum cleaner fixed or thought that your broken lamp was a lost cause, there’s hope. A worldwide movement is trying to reform our throwaway approach to possessions.

The movement’s foundation is the Repair Cafe, a local meeting place that brings together people with broken items and repair coaches, or volunteers, with the expertise to fix them.


It Just Got A Lot Harder To Toss Your Old Ikea Couch

Read the full story from Fast Company.

Millions of people around the world own Ikea couches because they’re cheap and relatively well-designed. That also makes them more disposable. When it’s time to move or redecorate, many of us would rather toss our old couches than get them reupholstered.

That’s something the Swedish interior design company Bemz is trying to change. The 12-year-old company makes custom slipcovers for Ikea couches and chairs. The aim? To keep furniture out of landfills while also giving consumers a way to change the look of their living space.

Effingham Public Library Book Box

The Book Box Vending machine project was started to allow the Effingham (IL) Public Library to share their abundance of donated books with the community. By placing the Book Box (a repurposed vending machine) in the Effingham County Building, the library promotes literacy to community members as well as those who are currently incarcerated. Users find books, sorted by genre, wrapped in butcher paper and labeled so that they receive a book of their choosing at the push of a button. There is no charge for the books.

Created with an initial grant from Better World Books, the Book Box is maintained by the staff and volunteers at the Effingham Public Library.

For more information on the project, visit the Library’s web site or the project page at Better World Books.