HP is being sued again over blocking third-party ink

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No fewer than 11 individuals have grouped together to lodge a class action complaint against HP, claiming that consumers are being locked into using the manufacturer’s own ink or face having a non-functioning printer.

The case relates to a firmware update that was issued in late-2022 and early-2023, which disables the printer when a third-party cartridge is detected.

Affected printers now display an error message in such circumstances: “This printer is intended to work only with new or reused cartridges that have a new or reused HP chip.”

HP lock-in challenged in court

The lawsuit, filed in a US District Court in the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that “HP used the software update to create a monopoly in the aftermarket for replacement cartridges.”

The case details how the plaintiffs’ printers stopped working with the introduction of third-party ink, said to be around half the price of genuine HP replacements. The printers once again functioned upon the reintroduction of HP ink, slated to cost around $100 for a full color set.

The California-based company previously used “Dynamic Security” updated in the early 2010s, which were found to impose similar restrictions. HP paid a $1.5 million settlement figure in 2019, and agreed not to apply the update to some models.

Registering a printer with HP promises performance enhancements and security fixes, but the plaintiffs complain that “there is no indication in HP’s manuals that agreeing to accept software and firmware updates could damage any features of the printer.”

According to the complaint, HP also raised the prices of its ink and its Instant Ink subscription at the same time as the firmware update rolled out.

As well as changes to HP’s business practices, the lawsuit seeks damages worth more than $5 million.

TechRadar Pro asked HP to comment, but the company did not immediately respond. Any further comment will be added here.

When we previously challenged HP CFO Marie Myers’ comment which indicated that lock-in is beneficial to the company and that Instant Ink subscribers are 20% more valuable, a company spokesperson told us: “HP offers a wide range of printing products and solutions for customers to choose from – including Instant Ink, a popular subscription service that can save customers up to 50% on ink. Customers who sign up for Instant Ink can cancel their subscription at any time.”

Via Ars Technica

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!