HP backtracks on third party Ink

history-of-print-16th-century-printing-companyThe maker of expensive printer ink, HP has backtracked on a rather nasty plan which meant that users could not buy third party ink cartridges.

HP hit the headlines when it issued an update for its printers that made it impossible to place third party cartridges in its machines.  The move was made suddenly so that buyers who had been using such cartridges for a year or more would have to buy the expensive HP ink.

The move angered consumer rights groups and it looked like HP would be facing a rather expensive court case.

Now HP said it will restore the ability of certain OfficeJet printers to use third-party ink cartridges, after being criticized for issuing a firmware update that rejects non-HP ink.

But HP is still defending its practice of preventing the use of non-HP ink and is making no promises about refraining from future software updates that force customers to use only official ink cartridges.

Writing in its bog, HP said:

“We updated a cartridge authentication procedure in select models of HP office inkjet printers to ensure the best consumer experience and protect them from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges that do not contain an original HP security chip and that infringe on our IP,” the company said.

The recent firmware update for HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X printers “included a dynamic security feature that prevented some untested third-party cartridges that use cloned security chips from working, even if they had previously functioned,” HP said.

For customers who don’t wish to be protected from the ability to buy less expensive ink cartridges, HP said it “will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will provide details here.”

HP said it will continue to use security features that “protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working.”

Our guess is that the new policy will come in with new machines so that customers know that they have to buy the official cartridges.

HP did apologize for its poor communication about the firmware update and promised to be more “transparent” in the future. But that alone won’t satisfy the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which called on HP for a public commitment to never again use its software update process “to distribute anti-features that work against [HP] customers’ interests.”