Hewlett-Packard has admitted it installed printer technology which made them basically useless if users installed cartridges not made by HP.
The models all came from the OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X ranges, which cost up to several hundred pounds.
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The company is unapologetic about the move, which it describes as an ‘update’ to protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property’. However, HP admitted it had should have done a “better job of communicating” the change.
The firmware change made earlier this month meant HP printer owners using unofficial – mainly cheaper – cartridges found they just stopped working.
But after a campaign backed by rights group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, HP have said an optional update that removes the restriction on unofficial cartridges will be available “within two weeks”.
The firm added:
We are committed to transparency in all of our communications and when we fall short, we call ourselves out.
But the company still defended its move, saying it did it to protect users from counterfeit products.
When ink cartridges are cloned or counterfeited, the customer is exposed to quality and potential security risks, compromising the printing experience.
Jon Flaxman, the company’s chief operating officer, said.
However, campaigners argued HP’s motivation was less about security, and more about protecting the large profit margins it adds to official ink cartridges.
According to Dutch retailer 123inkt.nl thousands of printers all over the world displayed the same error message on 13 September. “One or more ink cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove the cartridge and replace them with new cartridges,” the error message claimed.