Selling printers is hard. In the tough and competitive world of printer manufacturing, Lexmark had always lagged slightly behind other inkjet printer manufacturers. However, in the last few years Lexmark really did try and catch up to HP ink and Canon ink printers.
On the 28th of August 2012, Lexmark announced that it would no longer be making inkjet printers and that its production facility in the Philippines would be closing by 2015. The news, coming on the heels of the release of the OfficeEdge printer series, caused quite a stir. Melissa Riofrio of PC World wondered if perhaps the era of the inkjet printer was coming to an end.
Many consumers were left wondering about their warranties and whether or not technical support and ink cartridges would still be available. However, Lexmark’s customers were assured that all warranties on new and older model printers would still be honoured and that technical support and ink cartridges and other inkjet printer supplies would still be available. Printers, however, would be available until current stocks were sold out.
While everyone was getting used to the news that Lexmark had abandoned an entire product line, news broke on the 1st of April 2013 that the printer company was selling its more than 1500 US and foreign patents to Funai Electric Co., who would also be taking over the production facility in the Philippines.
Lexmark CEO and Chairman, Paul Rooke, stated that “As we continue our transition to becoming a leading end-to-end solutions provider, this transaction essentially completes our exit from the ownership of inkjet-related assets, although we will continue to support our existing customer base with the sale of inkjet supplies”
Funai Electric Co., based in Japan, has been manufacturing original Lexmark inkjet hardware since 1997, with Lexmark manufacturing their own line of ink cartridges. Funai Electric Co. chairman, Tomonori Hayashi, has been quoted as saying “Funai and Lexmark have developed a great partnership, and we are glad to take over Lexmark's inkjet-related technology and assets. The acquisition of the inkjet-related technology and assets enables Funai to start and grow our own inkjet business. Funai will benefit from the strong inkjet business platform that Lexmark has established.”
So what will this mean for Lexmark ink cartridge consumers?
By all accounts, very little will change. Funai Electric Co. will now be manufacturing Lexmark ink cartridges and Lexmark will continue to provide customer and warranty support. Funai Electric Co. has assured customers that there will be no delay or break in product supply while the sale of the patents goes through.