The astronomical prices printer makers charge for cartridges have long been a favourite subject of internet comedians (with more than one noting that printer ink is now more valuable than gold), so it came as a bit of a surprise when HP actually made some concessions after pushing out an update that bricked unofficial ink cartridges last year. Unfortunately, it seems HP has now returned to its iron-fisted ways, once again locking down the use of third-party ink with a software update.
Last September, HP decided to push out Keurig-like DRM, preventing customers from using certain printers after inserting third-party ink cartridges until they replaced them with official tanks from HP. After more than 10,000 people joined the Electronic Frontier Foundation to complain about it, HP eventually backed down, apologising for not properly “communicating about the authentication procedure to customers” and issuing an optional update to remove the “security” feature.
But according to ghacks.net, a new firmware update for HP Officejet printers released yesterday appears to be identical to the reviled DRM update released exactly one year ago. When you try to use third-party ink after installing the new/old firmware, you apparently run into an error that says “One or more cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove them and replace with new cartridges.” Depending on how many cartridges your specific printer uses, it may be possible to insert one or two without getting an error. But it seems when all of the ink cartridge slots are filled up, the warning message will be displayed again.
The new firmware reportedly affects printers from HP’s OfficeJet 6800 series, OfficeJet Pro 6200 series, OfficeJet Pro X 450 series, OfficeJet Pro 8600 series and more. We have reached out to HP for comment and will update this article if and when we hear back.
However, not all hope is lost, as there is a way to disable the Dynamic Security feature that prevents third-party ink cartridges from being used. If you go HP’s support page here, you can find your printer model and download a different version of your printer’s firmware that doesn’t have issues with third-party ink. After you install the alternate firmware, you’ll then want to block any new firmware from being installed to prevent this situation from happening again in the future.
Or you could say fuck it, and get a printer from another company like Canon or Epson, which feature printers with refillable reservoirs instead of ridiculous replacement cartridges.