HP Now Says It Is Blocking Third-Party Printer Ink for Your Protection arstechnica.com

Paul Kunert, the Register, September 2022:

The DRM-like mechanism [HP Dynamic Security] resulted in the print hardware returning a message that the carriage was damaged and an HP-branded toner was required. A Dutch ink seller spotted the move, saying the mass rejection was actually set up in March 2016 and the software was activated in September that year.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation then got involved, demanding HP reverse the policy, but this was ignored. However in Australia in 2018, HP offered compensation for not disclosing the software’s impact to customers that bought the devices with the DSF pre-installed or to anyone that received it via the firmware update. A class action settlement was reached in the US last December.

In Europe, a similar settlement was reached in September 2022. However, by March 2023, HP was at it again.

Scharon Harding, Ars Technica:

HP customers are showing frustration online as the vendor continues to use firmware updates to discourage or, as users report, outright block the use of non-HP-brand ink cartridges in HP printers. HP has already faced class-action lawsuits and bad publicity from “dynamic security,” but that hasn’t stopped the company from expanding the practice.

As Harding reports, HP spent years defending this practice as necessary to protect its intellectual property and to provide “the best consumer experience”, which sounds familiar. Ten months and another class action suit later, HP has another rationale to explain away this horrible practice.

Harding again, Ars:

Last Thursday, HP CEO Enrique Lores addressed the company’s controversial practice of bricking printers when users load them with third-party ink. Speaking to CNBC Television, he said, “We have seen that you can embed viruses in the cartridges. Through the cartridge, [the virus can] go to the printer, [and then] from the printer, go to the network.”


HP acknowledges that there’s no evidence of such a hack occurring in the wild. Still, because chips used in third-party ink cartridges are reprogrammable (their “code can be modified via a resetting tool right in the field,” according to Actionable Intelligence), they’re less secure, the company says. The chips are said to be programmable so that they can still work in printers after firmware updates.

In December, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission noted in a blog post it would investigate specious privacy and security justifications for locking out competition:

Where dominant market participants use privacy and security as a justification to disallow interoperability and foreclose competition, the FTC will scrutinize those claims carefully to determine whether they are well-founded and not pretextual, and whether the chosen approach is tailored to minimize anticompetitive impact.

This post was seen by the New York Times as a response to the then-current controversy over Apple’s blocking of Beeper Mini. The lens in the paragraph I quoted above could easily be applied to App Store policies and HP’s printer ink shenanigans, too.

One other thing from that CNBC interview:

Andrew Ross Sorkin: Long-term mode, do you think that the idea of third-party cartridges at all are a bad idea? There should be no third-party market?

Enrique Lores: Our view is that we need to make printing as easy as possible, and our long-term objective is to make printing a subscription.

Kick rocks!