Many HP Printer owners using 3rd party (cheaper) ink cartridges came in for a shock last week when they found that their printers started to not recognise the ink and began throwing up error messages. 

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On September 13th, a firmware update, apparently released in March of this year became active, and disabled the use of any non HP security chipped cartridges.

3rd party manufacturers and users have been quick to food HP with disgruntled comments and anger at the move. Disquiet was also evident in the covert manner with which HP executed the move, installing the firmware in March but not making it active until almost 6 months later in a move clearly designed to ensure as full a blanket penetration as possible.

Some of the error messages encountered by HP users include ‘cartridge problem,’ ‘one or more cartridges are missing or damaged,’ and ‘older generation cartridge.’ There were also reports on HP forums that genuine HP cartridges were being rejected as ‘damaged,’ or faulty.

HP issued this statement a few days after allegedly initially denying they had made any changes to their hardware:

“Beginning in 2015, HP implemented updates to the firmware related to the security chip in HP OfficeJet, OfficeJet Pro and OfficeJet Pro X printers that maintains secure communications between the cartridge and the printer. The purpose of this update is to protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property. These printers will continue to 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.”

HP users may not be forced to use HP only ink for long however. 3rd party Dutch manufacturer, 123inkt.nl has said it may already have found a way to circumnavigate the new HP firmware update by making new ink cartridges that can bypass the efforts made by HP.

Time will tell.