HP Under Fire For Blocking Third-Party Ink Cartridges Again

It's not the first time this has happened

HP logo
This isn't the first time HP has been criticized for this.
Paco Freire/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s a tale as old as time: a consumer electronics manufacturer creates something ubiquitous and then seeks to control how it’s used after someone buys it. This can take many forms; the ongoing Right to Repair movement, which attempts to allow people to repair devices on their own, addresses one element of it. And then there’s the ongoing debate about printer ink, which has prompted frustration among desktop printer users.

The situation is both simple and maddening: let’s say you’ve just run out of ink. You purchase a replacement ink cartridge that’s compatible with your printer, only to find that it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, this might well be intentional. HP has been criticized in years past, including 2016, for releasing firmware updates that prevent people from using third-party ink cartridges in their devices.

A recent Ars Technica article points to a resumption of this policy, with some HP users being told that their ink cartridges no longer work due to the presence of a non-HP chip. At issue is the company’s Dynamic Security policy for its printers, which means that — as per a statement from the company to Ars Technica — “Dynamic Security equipped printers are intended to work only with new or reused cartridges that have new or reused HP chips or electronic circuitry.”

The Verge’s reporting on the same issue turned up several printer models affected: the “OfficeJet Pro 6970, OfficeJet Pro 6968, OfficeJet 6950, and OfficeJet 7740.” So if you’re using third-party ink cartridges in any of these, you might want to be wary of any firmware updates coming down the pipeline.

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Regulators in some countries have been, shall we say, skeptical of HP’s Dynamic Security system. Last year, the company agreed to settlements with customers affected by a similar update in both the EU and USA. Will these new firmware updates have a similar fate? Time will tell.

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