It seems that HP released a firmware for it’s inkjet printers that prevents the use of replacement cartridges that aren’t manufactured by the vendor. Read on to find out more.
Article updated on 19/09/16 10:40am with comments from HP.
Inkjet printers are relatively inexpensive these days but the costs of replacement cartridges can burn a hole through your wallet. Sometimes, official replacement cartridges cost just as much as the printer itself. That’s why third-party cartridges have become a lucrative business. The print quality of unofficial cartridges can’t be guaranteed but at least they don’t cost an arm and a leg.
But printer vendors make a lot of money from printer consumables and these third-party cartridges are a thorn in their side. It would appear that HP has taken matters into their own hands. Back in March, HP released a firmware update for some of its Officejet Pro range. At the time, refill company Inkjet411 reported that the firmware (version ending in R1547A) would lock out certain types of third-party cartridges. At the time, it noted that the firmware would impact the following printers:
It was only this month that an influx of HP inkjet printer users started to report that they were getting error messages such as “One or more cartridges are missing or damaged” when using unofficial cartridges. There were talks that HP pre-programmed the failure date for non-HP cartridges in its printer, which the vendor has reportedly admitted to. A HP Australia spokesperson told Lifehacker Australia in a statement that HP has been been implementing features in its HP Officejet, Officejet Pro and Officejet Pro X printers to “secure communication between the cartridge and printer and protect its innovation product offering and intellectual property” since late 2015:
“[HP] printers work with refilled or re-manufactured cartridges with an Original HP security chip; other cartridges may not function. In many cases this functionality was installed in the HP printer and in some cases it has been implemented as part of an update to the printer’s firmware. This is not linked to any recent firmware update, in most cases the printer came with this firmware. HP printers are designed to be compatible with refilled and remanufactured cartridges that use Original HP chips, and HP printers do not employ technology preventing their use. “This impacts only cartridges compatible with OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X print cartridges with an non-HP security chip with HP product numbers 934/935, 950/951 and 970/971. Affected customers are encouraged to contact the supplier of the ink cartridge to determine if their cartridges use a non-HP security chip. HP Original ink cartridges (product numbers 934/935, 950/951, and 970/971) always include an Original HP security chip.”
The HP Support forum has been swamped by customer complaints regarding the same issue. Here’s one from an unhappy customer called Ted who is currently using a HP Officejet Pro 8610:
“Printer worked fine for 9 months then on 9/13 HP uploaded without my permission a firmware update that caused a message ” damaged cartridge” for all my cartridges and then it refused to print.I use it daily for work and now am in trouble. Others must have the same problem.Is there a way to stop HP from doing this to [people] who have bought their equipment. [Lawsuit] perhaps?”
The response from a HP employee wasn’t exactly helpful and probably rubbed salt in the wound by suggesting that the customer should buy consumables directly from the vendor:
“… Regards next steps, you could return them to the place of purchase, or switch to original HP ink. If cost savings are a concern you could perhaps consider the Instant Ink program?”
“Better than that, I turned off automatic updates, so this cannot happen again….Thanks. Ted”
If you’re experiencing the same issue with your current HP inkjet printer, there’s really nothing much you can do if you’ve already updated the firmware. Your best bet is to return your cartridges to the retailer you bought it from. The firmware reportedly blocks older chips that are used on third-party cartridges so you can try getting ones that have newer smart chips that are compatible with the software.
If you haven’t updates the firmware, Inkjet411 suggests preventing future cartridge lockouts by disabling HP Updates, but bear in mind that may leave your printer vulnerable to security flaws that emerge.