HP Pushed Firmware That Makes Printers Reject Third-Party Ink Cartridges

Image courtesy of frankieleon

Consumers like to think that we can use the items we’ve legally purchased however we see fit. If we want to cover our new backpack with rhinestones or use third-party ink cartridges in the printer that we bought, who is the manufacturer to stop us? Yet while backpacks might stay Bedazzled, you can’t always use whatever ink you want in your printer.

A recent firmware update to HP printers cut off some third-party cartridges’ access to printers. Printers told users that their ink cartridges were “damaged,” but the only thing wrong with them was apparently that HP didn’t make them.

“Having worked absolutely fine for the last 13-14 months on non HP cartridges, [i]t conked out last week,” one user on HP’s support forums recounted. “I went through 6 new cartridges before deciding to look on the web to see if there was an issue.. .” That’s when the user discovered that there was indeed an issue.

Here’s the interesting thing, though: there was no printer firmware update in September. Instead, a self-destruct date for these cartridges came in an update back in March.

Retailer 123Inkt, a seller of third-party cartridges in the Netherlands, figured all of this out after receiving complaints and checking with a supplier. The site Myce translated the saga into English and followed the developments.

HP’s first statement was that the update that knocked out off-brand cartridges was supposed to “protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property,” which is corporate-ese for “knock out your third-party cartridges.”

According to Myce, the company later explained to a broadcaster in the Netherlands that the change to how chips in cartridges work was to “protect the printers and to protect the communication between the cartridge and the printer.”

Yes, that is one way to put it.

What’s the solution? Some power users who want to keep using their third-party cartridges are rolling the printer firmware back to an older version, but that’s not an easy solution for ordinary users. Cartridge makers are upgrading the chips to be compatible, but that will only work until HP catches up with them.

HP’s DRM sabotages off-brand printer ink cartridges with self-destruct date [Ars Technica]
HP pre-programmed failure date of unofficial/ non-HP ink cartridges in its printers

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.