HP outrages printer users with firmware update that suddenly blocks third-party ink

HP customers are showing frustration online as the vendor continues to use firmware updates to discourage or, as users report, completely block the use of non-HP brand ink cartridges in HP printers. HP has already faced class action lawsuits and bad publicity over “dynamic security,” but that hasn’t stopped the company from expanding the practice.

Dynamic security is a feature used by HP printers to authenticate ink cartridges and prevent the use of cartridges that are not approved by HP. As the company explains:

Dynamic security is based on the printer’s ability to communicate with the security chips or electronic circuitry in the cartridges. HP uses proactive security measures to protect the quality of our customers’ experience, maintain the integrity of our printing systems, and protect our intellectual property.

Printers equipped with dynamic security are designed to work only with cartridges that have new or reused HP electronics or chips. Printers use dynamic security measures to lock cartridges that use non-HP chips or non-HP or modified electronic circuitry. Reused, remanufactured, and refilled cartridges that reuse the HP chip or electronic circuitry are not affected by dynamic security.

HP introduced dynamic security to select printers in 2016, and since 2018, it has paid out millions in class action lawsuits, including to customers in the US, Australia, and Italy.

Dynamic security strikes again

After paying, it seems that HP is determined to continue using DRM to discourage its printer customers from spending money on ink and toner outside of the HP family.

“HP has updated their printers to completely ban ‘non-HP’ ink! They no longer display a ‘quality cannot be guaranteed’ message, but instead cancel your printing entirely until you insert an HP ink cartridge Reddit user grhhull posted Tuesday. . “After contacting HP, I was told ‘this is due to the recent ‘update’ of all printers.”

A Reddit user says that he was abruptly met with this message on his HP printer.
Enlarge / A Reddit user says that he was abruptly met with this message on his HP printer.

It’s unclear when HP issued updates for which printer model, but there are alleged customer complaints online stemming from at the end of last year, showing many customers surprised that their printer no longer worked with non-HP ink cartridges after an upgrade. Some pointed to third-party brands that they had trusted for years.

HP warned us

HP community support threads include complaints about the OfficeJet 7740 and OfficeJet Pro 6970. HP lists both printers, as well as others, as capable of bypassing Dynamic Security under specific conditions. However, HP’s support page states that this only applies to models manufactured before December 1, 2016.

For more examples, there are comments in the HP support community suggesting that HP OfficeJet 6978 and 6968 were recently affected. Both printers are discontinued, but HP’s product pages make it clear that the fickle nature of dynamic security means that third-party ink could stop working at any time.

“It is only designed for use with cartridges that use a genuine HP chip. Cartridges that use a non-HP chip may not work, and those that work today may not work in the future,” the 6968 page says.

The product page for the 6978 similarly states that the printer is designed for cartridges with “a new or reused HP chip, and uses dynamic security measures to block cartridges that use a non-HP chip.” firmware will maintain the effectiveness of these measures and block previously working cartridges.

And HP’s dynamic security page also leaves the door open for sudden ink-on-the-fly lockdown:

“Firmware updates delivered periodically over the Internet will maintain the effectiveness of dynamic security measures,” the page reads.

“Updates can improve, improve, or extend the functionality and features of the printer, protect against security threats, and serve other purposes, but these updates can also block cartridges that use a non-HP chip or modified circuitry or that are not from HP so that they will not work in the printer, including the cartridges that work today”.

Tech – Ars Technica

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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