The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said in a letter to the company's CEO that HP has been sabotaging OfficeJet printers with firmware that prevents use of non-HP ink cartridges and even HP cartridges that have been refilled, forcing customers to buy more expensive ink directly from HP. The self-destruct mechanism informs customers that their ink cartridges are "damaged" and must be replaced.
"The software update that prevented the use of third-party ink was reportedly distributed in March, but this anti-feature itself wasn't activated until September," EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow wrote in a letter to HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler.
It was only a week ago that Hewlett Packard Australia issued a statement to ChannelNews that HP does not prevent customers from printing with refilled or remanufactured ink cartridges using an Original HP security chip. The updated firmware relies on HP's dynamic security technology; because of the nature of security, we are not prepared to provide information on how it works.
Now in a major backflip HP has apologized for stopping ink cartridges supplied by other vendors from working with some HP printers.
The company, which has long tried to restrict the use of rival ink cartridges, said it should have better explained a new authentication feature in software that stopped owners of HP printers from using third-party cartridges that had previously functioned. HP said it would issue an optional software update that will remove the security feature involved in the issue.
"Although only a small number of customers have been affected, one customer who has a poor experience is one too many," said Jon Flaxman, HP's chief operating officer, in a statement issued to ChannelNews.