You've got to remember that the patent has been issued in the USA and not for the rest of the world. The US is just a nightmare when it comes to patents with the patent office letting companies get away with murder, possibly in the hope that they'll end up with everything made by Americans.. *sigh*.
As for the conspiracy theory, could be right, could be wrong but I know that there's a lot of people buying up refurb'd units or even new units and then splitting up the parts to sell seperately at over inflated prices.. eg: printhead for £50+, carts as sealed originals, CD tray and then the printer with the small print noting the lack of the spare parts... Net result is a lot of people are getting their fingers burned, but the sellers are raking it in.
It sucks but life is rarely fair :sad:
I rather thought it was a patent issue with CDs and DVDs them selfs, not with CD printing. I could be wrong but I keep hearing the issue is with Phillips not Epson. Other inkjet based CD printers exist just none in the consumer market.
As far as conspiricies go, I think the main conspiricy is apothy, as in canon does not care if US users enable the feature because they are getting something extra, they don't have to pay extra to make it, and they don't have to pay Phillips squat.
As far as parts sold for inflated prices... there is a conspircy there... but it's one that prices whole printers typicaly under the their production value. For example there are brother pritners in the UK that cost 150 quid, where a replacement head costs 200 quid. I don't think they are trying to extract extra money, I think they are honestly paying more for the printhead than the printer hoping you'll buy more ink to make up the cost where if they sold the head for less than it's worth some other company would come by, buy heads from their online store, and be able to undersell them.
Though I have observed that canon printheads are cheaper on Japanese websites... but I honestly don't have any idea as to their value.
But this CD printing issue doesn't bug me so much. What does bug me is in Japan there is other than lightscribe... labelflash by fuji and yamaha. But from my understanding it will not be officaly released in America due to HP's paten on Lightscribe... annoying as LabelFlash has been in the works for 3 years and claims 256 grey scale levels.