HP’s DRM sabotages off-brand printer ink cartridges

Thousands of HP printer owners have been notified that their ink cartridges are ‘damaged’ and need to be replaced.

The reason, according to a statement from HP, was a firmware update intended to "protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property." Some users, however, have reported that even HP’s own cartridges have failed in their printers and that they weren’t able to get the device to respond in order to remove the offending ink.

One HP OfficeJet user complained: "I turn it on, it complains about a damaged cartridge, so I open the front door to replace. When I open the door, the carriage does NOT move, and the error message now says to close the door to print. I close the door, and the original damaged cartridge error message returns."

The firmware update – introduced on September 13th – has left consumers angry with companies selling ‘private label’ ink and refilled HP cartridges on September 13. As reported by Myce, Dutch ink cartridge retailer 123inkt.nl investigated the problem and has been told by the manufacturer of the chip used in its ink cartridges that the problems are worldwide. The manufacturer is already in the process of producing new chips to get around the firmware.

In light of HP’s sale of HP Enterprise and its shifting focus more and more towards devices with the recent $1.05billion acquisition offer for Samsung’s printer business, the decision to sabotage third-party and recycled cartridges with replaced chips is not a surprise. This is likely an attempt to tighten the company’s grip on printer ink sales – printer ink is one of the company’s biggest profit centers.

This is not the company’s first dealing with third-party printer cartridges. In the past, HP has gone as far as to pay retailers not to carry third-party ink cartridges.

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