HP is preventing printer users from using third-party ink

Mar 13, 2023

HP users are furious after being unable to use third-party ink cartridges on their printers. The issue is being caused by a protection measure called Dynamic Security.

Normally, when users use a third-party cartridge, the printer may display a message that would warn them that it cannot guarantee the quality of the print-outs, but it would still allow them to proceed with the printing task, as it should. This new problem, however, completely blocks the usage of 3rd-party ink, so it cannot be bypassed.

What is HP Dynamic Security?

HP ink (and toner) cartridges come with a chip in them, that is used for a security measure. The authentication process uses Dynamic security, a feature that debuted in 2016, to communicate with the chips on the cartridges, to verify if a printer is using HP original ink. (new or reused). This feature also blocks non-HP chips and modified cartridges from working with the printer. In other words, this is essentially a form of DRM protection. You can learn more about it on the company's website.

Blocking people from using third-party ink is illegal, Ars Technica reports that HP has faced class action lawsuits because of Dynamic Security. HP lost the cases and paid millions in the form of compensation. The most recent example (via Bleeping Computer) is from last year, when HP reached a settlement for $1.5 Million to pay about $150 per plaintiff in a class action lawsuit in the U.S. Similarly, it had to pay up to €150 each to European users for blocking third-party cartridges. As a result of this, HP also had to offer a firmware downgrade to remove Dynamic Security from the printers, although this was only applicable to select models. But now, it seems to be doing the same shenanigans again.

One user says that they faced the problem on a 3 and a half year old HP printer, and that they had been using the same ink brand for 2 years without an issue. When they contacted HP for support, the company told them that this happened because of an update for the printers. HP also said that they could not remove the Dynamic Security feature, i.e. rollback the firmware.  The Verge reports that other users on Twitter and HP's community forums have raised similar complaints.

Is HP protecting its customers and its products with this security measure, even on printers that are out of warranty? It is common knowledge that printer manufacturers sell the hardware at an affordable price (often at a loss), the profit comes from cartridges (refills) that they can keep selling to users for years. The same principle goes for game consoles too for that matter. So, by blocking the use of third-party ink, the company essentially forces the hand of the user, to buy its own cartridges.

The release notes for a firmware update for HP Officejet 6950, 6960, Pro 6960, Pro 6970 and another one HP DeskJet/Ink Advantage 2700, both mention that the software enables Dynamic Security on the printers. So it is possible this problem began then. A way to prevent this issue would be unplugging the printer from the internet to prevent automatic firmware updates. Of course, this would not be possible if you have a HP+ printer, since the cloud-based service also requires an HP account to be logged in to use the printer.

Article Name
HP is preventing printer users from using third-party ink
HP is doing it again. Its Dynamic Security DRM is preventing printer users from using third-party ink cartridges.
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  1. John G. said on March 15, 2023 at 12:52 pm

    Off topic, also HP computers seem to have some kind of battery problems, I know four classmates with swollen batteries in their laptops and all of them are HP. Very curious at least imho, four of four it’s quite not casual indeed, I suppose. In the other hand, in our working class group we recently have changed the old laser HP printer to a Brother MFCL2710DW laser multifuncion one and it’s gold, the W11 wifi’s connectivity problems have dissapeared at once! :S

  2. Huisie said on March 15, 2023 at 11:02 am

    You can add the OfficeJet Pro 9022e to the list.

    I was about to order this as a replacement for an OfficeJet Pro 8600 Plus that has given over a decade of fautless service. I browsed HP Support for this model and spotted a note attached to the latest firmware about “Dynamic Security”.

    A quick read of that and order cancelled. HP now added to list of companies never to purchase from again.

  3. Norio said on March 14, 2023 at 7:10 pm

    @Leland, where do you get the information that “Lexmark is way more aggressive with the tactic”? We use Lexmark laser printers at work and haven’t had any issues with 3rd-party cartridges.

  4. daveb said on March 14, 2023 at 2:41 am

    Keep devices like printers from accessing the open web from your network. There is no good reason for them to have the capability to update themselves if they are accomplishing their task.

  5. Leland said on March 14, 2023 at 12:59 am

    One of the first things I do when researching printers is look into disabling firmware updates. This isn’t the first time I have heard of this nor will it be the last. HP is just getting started with this. Lexmark is way more aggressive with the tactic. Brother has also done it to some degree though it is fairly easy to disable firmware updates for brother printers. Luckily this shouldn’t be an issue with tank based printers. It always pays to research a product before purchase. I have found many work arounds for these issues in Amazon reviews written by real users. It can be a lifesaver.

  6. Martin P. said on March 13, 2023 at 11:45 pm

    I gave up on HP hardware a long long time ago for the simple reason mentioned in the article. Forbidding printer owners from using third party ink cartridges is equivalent to the Ford Motor Company forcing owners of Ford vehicles to only purchase replacement parts manufactured by Ford. It’s abusive and dishonest and illegal. Companies should be sued to the moon for doing it and governments all over the world should slam them with such a huge penalty that they would never try that again.

    In the meantime, only HP seems to have resorted to this abuse so the best answer to their crap is to purchase anything but HP, whether it’s a printer or any other kind of hardware that HP sells.

  7. yanta said on March 13, 2023 at 11:39 pm

    Cloud requirements to use a printer. Seriously. That’s just appalling. Don’t buy HP.
    If they want people to use their ink they should half the price and double the ink. I get twice and many pages from my XL third party carts at 25% of the cost than the genuine canon carts.

    Being uncontactable is a strategy for all tech companies. They just don’t want to deal with customers. “Buy my product. If you have issues, buy another one and don’t bother us. Yes, we know it’s rediculously overpriced, but we want to buy private jets, so suck it up princess”.

  8. Anonymous said on March 13, 2023 at 10:16 pm

    I changed to Brother printers and never again had to put up with this nonsense. 7 years going strong with no issues.

  9. Don Wiseguy said on March 13, 2023 at 10:03 pm

    Just set your printer to never update, as they cannot mess your third party ink cart ledges. Your printer never needs updates anyway… Get your third party ink from a well-known souse also, and I never have a problem for years with any of my printers.. They put the right chip to make them work right..

  10. Dan said on March 13, 2023 at 7:45 pm

    Brother or Pantum here. Very good Linux support, too.

  11. John G. said on March 13, 2023 at 5:49 pm

    I avoid ink printers at all cost, furthermore my father has one laser printer since 2002 and it’s still working like a charm printing pages and pages like there was no tomorrow. It’s the family printer for four persons, daily hard work. Best piece of hardware ever bought that I have seen. Thanks for the article.

  12. Chumley said on March 13, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    HP has a history of doing this kind of thing.

    Another dirty trick that they use is “region coding” their ink cartridges. The printer is locked to a specific region, and if you try to use genuine ink cartridges from another region, they will be rejected.

    They introduced that tactic after the warranty period of my HP printer, and silently locked the printer region based on whatever carts were currently installed. I had unknowingly purchased a cart for a different region, so my printer got locked to that. Next time I tried to replace the carts, using genuine carts for my region, they were rejected. The printer was essentially unusable at that point. It took months to figure out how to contact HP support and eventually get in touch with someone who could reset the region in the printer. If you are out of warranty, they make it very difficult to even contact them.

    Very frustrating. No more HP printers for me.

  13. MikeO said on March 13, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    I bought my current HP All-in-One several years ago. Initially I had been forced to use HP ink. Then customers complained so much HP released a firmware update which then allowed the use of 3rd party ink. Evidently HP had second thoughts and issued another firmware update soon after preventing 3rd party ink. I never installed that firmware and today still enjoy using low cost 3rd party ink in my HP printer.

  14. Mike said on March 13, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    This is why I refuse to be drawn into an online relationship with any of these big companies. No Microsoft, no Steam, no HP, none of them. They will constantly update the terms and conditions, not to mention the products I buy and find new ways to make me their *****.

  15. VioletMoon said on March 13, 2023 at 3:32 pm

    How Much Does HP Instant Ink Cost?

    May want to explain why HP ink is inexpensive for most folks.

    If one doesn’t print that much, 15 free pages/month is a steal.

    50 pages a month? Six cents/page [full color].

    Why purchase some third party cartridge w/ poor ink quality? That’s been my experience with an Epson Workforce–the printer is/was fine until tried a reputable third party cartridge. Won’t try that again.

    Brother–it may be worth the initial cost to purchase a color laser.

    1. ZeroChaos80 said on May 19, 2023 at 1:06 pm

      Because the machine was bought and paid for? Because I have the option to save 2-3 or even 5 dollars if I choose to “suffer with poor ink quality”, which by the way is as big a crock of hooey, as HP is. They had a price tag of $47 on the ink for my printer and I found ink that came in bottles on Amazon. I bought the kit that they use to refill cartridges and clean clogs and I put the bottled ink in the old cartridges. Even buying the bottles of ink plus the kit, I only spent $58.63 and I used the ink in those bottles for 101/2 months! And I homeschool so I pretty much print daily around 40-75 pages a day between school book stuff and my hobby of scrapbooking. The issue, at least for me, is if I buy something, it no longer belongs to the people I bought it from. It is mine and I should be able to use it however I feel led. HP needs to get a grip because anyone familiar with the business practices of these companies KNOWS it’s all about their bottom line and forcing people to buy their ink makes their bottom line look good. They will be put out of business but I guess it doesn’t concern them much.

  16. Tachy said on March 13, 2023 at 3:25 pm

    Ink has always been a rip off.

    We bought a new printer because the ink cartridges for it cost half the price of the ones for our old printer.

    The cartridges are EXACTLY the same ones! The only difference is the sticker on them and the id on the chip in them.

  17. Kalmly said on March 13, 2023 at 2:58 pm

    Probably all printer manufacturers try forcing their customers to purchase only their brand of ink. Brother (my personal favorite) printers warn users against other brands of ink and force people to change cartridges long before it is necessary. It is infuriating. If they want me to stick with their brand, they should make their cartridges more affordable and stop with the low-on-ink game. Let me decide when I need a new cartridge.

    1. David Jefferies said on March 30, 2023 at 12:20 pm

      I’m sure this is against anti-competition laws in the UK.

  18. ECJ said on March 13, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    I would recommend avoiding HP products, as they have proven time and time again that they’re unscrupulous scumbags who repeatedly treat their customers with hostility and contempt.

    In fact, try to avoid Silicon Valley based companies as a whole, as they all suck. If a company is headquartered in San Francisco, it’s almost a given that they’re a bunch of crooks.

    I guess for those who need to buy a new printer, try to find a business-orientated Brother laser printer and read reviews beforehand to ensure the haven’t copied HPs anti-consumer practices.

  19. pHROZEN gHOST said on March 13, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    This is not the first time they did this. The last time they did, I switched to a better printer from Canon :-)

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