The intellectual property interests are at it again, trying to leverage their rights to take away yours. No one knows this better than 44-year-old Eric Smith of Charleston, West Virginia. Smith has devoted his life to the office supply company founded by his father—a company that’s now under legal attack by printing behemoth Lexmark International, Inc.
Although Smith trying to fend off Lexmark is like a lone Ukrainian trying to stop the Russian army, when I reached the embattled businessman at his office, he said that he’s determined to stick it out. “We have nothing else to fall back on.”
Smith started in the business as a teenager, delivering typewriter ribbons to customers around town. When IBM Selectrics gave way to computers and dot-matrix printers, Smith found a niche in recycling ink cartridges—buying up empties and refilling them. As revenue grew he hired buddies to work in the shop, and eventually he became president.
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