When you buy a product which uses a consumable, and the only source for the consumable is the manufacturer of the product itself.

You would describe the consumable as ??

  • I have only ever heard this referred to as single sourcing. For example: logisticsit.com/blog/2013/10/28/… – user323578 Apr 16 at 14:43
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    Good question. It seems like there ought to be a name for a complementary good produced under monopoly. Maybe try Economics Stack Exchange. – Jim Apr 16 at 15:06
  • Thank you for the swift responses, I will look into these. – Larko Apr 16 at 16:43

Such a term may be


'OEM' means 'original equipment manufacturer'.

'Only' means that aftermarket parts (or, in your case: 'consumables') sold by companies other than the OEM are not available.

The precise definition of 'OEM' seems to differ by industry.

  • Thank you for the suggestion, I think this may work in the presentation I am putting together. The automotive connotations may work in my favour given the expected audience. – Larko Apr 16 at 16:44
  • @Larko Your comment suggests that you are accepting this answer, in which case it would be courteous to 'Accept' the answer formally (by 'ticking' it), as that will award points to the person who provided that answer. – TrevorD Apr 16 at 18:58

A monopoly is a market with only one supplier. Traditionally this has been created by a person or organisation buying up all the available supplies but it can also exist where there is only one manufacturer of a product.

There are famous examples of monopolies of the latter type where the product has been invented by someone who has been granted a patent on it. Good examples are James Pickard's patent on the crank and flywheel and Howard Hughes Sr's patent on the 2-cone rotary rock drill bit.

A piece of equipment covered by patents which uses consumables also covered by patents (like many computer printers) is an example of a monopoly. The only way they differ from conventional monopolies is that there are usually competitors selling other pieces of equipment on a similar basis (HP, Lexmark and Epson for example) and they have to compete on total cost of ownership and not just on the initial cost of the equipment.

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