HP promoted their Dynamic Security System to their customers as a way to “upgrade their experience and maintain the integrity of its printing systems.” Instead many consumers found their Internet connected HP printers turned into an expensive paper-weight when their devices refused to work. According to a US Class Action Lawsuit:
In or around late October and early November, 2020, HP caused to be transmitted a firmware update containing malware designed to lock out then-compatible third-party supply cartridges. HP wrote, designed, and transmitted the firmware or a portion thereof solely for the purpose of disabling third-party supply cartridges, which were successfully competing with its supplies business.
The ‘malware’ described in the lawsuit was HP’s Dynamic Security system for internet connected HP Printers.
The issue with Dynamic Security was that it made any ink cartridges sold by third-party vendors which didn’t have an HP chip or electronic circuitry impossible to use with the printers.
Hence, customers who bought a printer with the security system enabled, or applied the firmware update that introduced Dynamic Security, essentially degraded their devices’ printing capabilities without knowing it.
Interestingly the EU Commission found in November 2016 HP Inc. was not infringement of EU competition law since they “publicly apologised ]sic] for the incident and announced on its website that it released, on 12 October 2016, an optional firmware update that removed the dynamic security feature introduced through the initial software automatic update. It has also been further reported that several third-party cartridge manufacturers had already reacted and either added a HP security chip or adapted their own chips so that their cartridges would continue to work.”
Printergate: Euroconsumers and its members are asking HP Inc. to pay damages to consumers in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Brazil for the failed compatibility of its printers with third-party cartridges. Euroconsumers is also asking HP to immediately stop this misleading, detrimental and anticompetitive practice. In November 2020 the Italian Antitrust Authority concluded HP is liable for the same charges and received a sanction of EUR 10 million.
In the US HP Inc. ended up paying via voluntary settlements $1.5 Million USD to US consumers (about $150 per customer). Euroconsumers wanted HP Inc. to compensate $150 USD/EUR $1.35 Million USD to each HP printer owner in Italy, Belgium, Spain, Portugal and Brazil affected by these practices HP Inc settled with EU customers for $20 USD to $50 USD per customer plus an additonal $45 USD for those who could prove specific losses. EU customers ended up with the short end of the stick in regards to compensation. However, this is not to say other member countries will not impose their own sanctions against HP such as the 10 Million EUR imposed by the Italian Antitrust Authority.