If you use off-brand ink in your HP printer, you might have started having some issues last week. That's because a firmware update appears to have added DRM that disables third-party ink cartridges in some HP printers. According to Ars Technica, HP claimed that the update was meant to "protect HP’s innovations and intellectual property."
HP isn’t a fan of competition when it comes to its printer ink profits
The update itself, which appears to have actually been released in March of this year, contained DRM that seems to have been set to disable the third-party cartridges on September 13th. Additionally, there are also reports on HP's forums that the newly added DRM is accidentally affecting genuine HP cartridges, causing them to return the same "damaged cartridge" error that the firmware now displays for unofficial cartridges.
Printer ink is notoriously expensive, to the point where the joke about buying a new printer to get the free included ink cartridge isn’t economically infeasible anymore. That cost comes directly from buying first-party ink — famously more expensive, ounce-per-ounce, than human blood — that printer companies like HP are able to entirely control the price of. And while there are a host of companies that have sprung up over the years to sell third-party or refilled cartridges for lower prices to ease the pressure on consumers, it seems that HP isn’t a fan of competition when it comes to its printer ink profits.
However, HP's efforts to block unofficial ink may be short lived, as Netherlands ink website 123inkt.nl notes that it is already working with its chip manufacturer to make new ink cartridges that can circumvent HP's software.