HP printers have received a lot of flack historically and more recently for invasive firmware updates that end up preventing customers from using ink with their printers. HP also encourages printer customers to sign up for the HP+ Program, a program that includes a free ink subscription trial and non-removable firmware that allows HP to cut off ink when it sees fit.
Despite this, HP markets dozens of its printers with Dynamic Security and the optional HP+ feature as being on the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry, indicating that these printers are designed with the environment in mind, more specifically, no Third-party ink cartridges are blocked. Given dynamic security and HP+ printers do just that, the International Imaging Technology Council (IITC) wants the General Electronics Council (GEC), which is responsible for the EPEAT registry, to revoke at least 101 HP printer models from the EPEAT registry, which HP “mocked.” from”.
Before we get into the IITC complaint sent May 22 to Catherine Larocque, Senior Director of the GEC, we should note IITC’s clear interests in this matter. The nonprofit trade association was founded in 2000 and says it represents “North American inkjet and ink cartridge manufacturers, component suppliers and cartridge collectors.” So its members stand to lose a lot of money from tactics like Dynamic Security. IITC already filed a complaint with the GEC about HP in 2019 over firmware blocking non-HP ink, but there didn’t seem to be any notable results.
The group is biased on this matter, but its complaint still reflects many of the problems and concerns that class action lawsuits and consumers have detailed regarding HP’s inkjet printers’ exclusive position. You can find the full complaint here.
“Killer Firmware Updates”
In order for a printer to register EPEAT, it is supposed to comply with the standards for the EPEAT Imaging Equipment Class, which is based on the IEEE 1680.2-2012 Environmental Assessment Standard for Imaging Equipment (PDF). The IITC is suspended in Section 126.96.36.199, which requires that registered products not “prevent the use of unmanufactured cartridges and unmanufactured containers” and that vendors provide documentation showing that the device is “not designed to prevent the use of an unmanufactured cartridge or unmanufactured container.”
Well, as the IITC and consumers who find the inkjet print middling will tell you, this sounds a lot like what HP is doing with its Dynamic Security printers.
Digging deeper, the IITC complaint claims that “in the past 8 weeks alone, HP has released 4 fatal firmware updates targeting dozens of EPEAT-registered inkjet printers.”
“At least one of these latest updates is specifically targeted to a single remanufactured cartridge manufacturer with no impact on third-party cartridges that are not remanufactured using non-HP functionally identical chips,” the complaint says.
The trade group also alleged that at least 26 “fatal firmware updates” have occurred on EPEAT-registered HP laser printers since October 2020.
The complaint says that the error message users are seeing – “The indicated cartridges have been blocked by the printer firmware because they contain a non-HP chip. This printer is intended to work only with new or reused cartridges that contain a new or reused HP chip.” Replace the indicated cartridges to continue printing” – in compliance with EPEAT requirements, however HP markets dozens of Dynamic Security printers with EPEAT environmental labels.
The IITC complaint highlights several places where HP is claiming EPEAT to register while apparently contradicting the terms of the registry.
For example, it shared EPEAT documentation (PDF) that states, “HP printers are not designed to prevent the use of unmanufactured cartridges and containers.” Works only with cartridges that contain new or reused HP chips or electronic circuits. Printers use dynamic security measures to block cartridges that use non-HP chips or modified or non-HP electronic circuits. “
It may be HP’s position that 188.8.131.52 allows it to block any non-manufactured cartridge that does not use an HP chip. Regardless of whether HP cites “security concerns” or some other excuse, 184.108.40.206 provides no such scope. Language 4.9 .2.1 is unequivocal and ineligible,” the IITC complaint says.
Dynamic Security printers get periodic firmware updates that HP claims “can improve, enhance, or extend printer functionality and features, protect against security threats, and serve other purposes” but also “block cartridges with a non-HP chip, a modified, or non-HP circuitry from working.” in the printer, including the cartridges that work today.” Sometimes these cartridges are more than 90 percent full, according to IITC, which fails to see where the “safety” in “dynamic safety” comes from:
The truth is, Dynamic Security has absolutely nothing to do with security, and everything to do with frustration with consumers choosing non-HP cartridges in an effort to improve sales of Original HP cartridges.
HP + insurances
The complaint also targets the HP+ program, which HP describes as “an integrated HP system that requires an Internet connection and works only with Original HP ink or toner cartridges” and provides customers with benefits such as six months of HP Instant Ink and a “connected cloud that automatically detects and fixes connectivity issues.” .”
But this “only works with original HP ink or toner cartridges” has people going into a frenzy.
“[HP+] IITC’s complaint says it confines consumers to the exclusive use of HP cartridges for the life of the printer, thus preventing the use of unmanufactured cartridges.
The complaint also claims that it has confirmed through HP technical support that HP+ cannot be deactivated; The Verge also confirmed this. We asked HP about this and the rest of the IITC complaint but did not receive a response in time for publication.
“It appears that HP’s position is that 220.127.116.11 includes a loophole that allows HP to permanently ban all unmanufactured cartridges if the end user activates HP+, however, 18.104.22.168 provides no such leeway,” the complaint says.
Finally, IITC accused HP of falsely marketing certain printer models as being on the EPEAT registry:
For example, HP’s product documentation for the HP OfficeJet 9015e claims “EPEAT Silver”; however, the corresponding EPEAT record describes the registered device as “HP OfficeJet Pro 9010/9012/9015/9018 All-in-One Printer.” This pattern is repeated across many HP devices, many of which are HP+ models that include the letter “e” at the end of their model number. While none of these models appear specifically in the EPEAT record, as shown in the table below, HP claims EPEAT registration for about half of them.
The trade group added that the Envy Inspire 7255e and OfficeJet 8034e claim to be registered with EPEAT, but no such models are registered, even if you get rid of the “e” suffix.
“This egregious whitewashing must be corrected,” the complaint says.
We have reached out to the GEC about the IITC complaint but did not receive a response in time for publication.
It’s not clear whether or not HP printers will be removed from the EPEAT registry or if GEC and/or HP will at least clear the specific models in the registry instead of classifying the entire series as having an EPEAT label.
As The Verge points out, GEC doesn’t seem to be in the least concerned about HP+. A document in its EPEAT registry states that it is aware of the feature and says, “Optional HP+ configuration does not meet required standard 22.214.171.124” while naming printers in the Silver EPEAT category.
But EPEAT and similar tools play an important role in helping consumers vote with dollars and choose products that align with their values, so it’s important to be clear and consistent to get any value. Greenwashing is a common practice in the printer industry, whose survival depends on people using endless amounts of paper and ink cartridges. However, HP has continually pushed customers’ boundaries with practices such as disruptive firmware updates and closed-region cartridges, turning many customers off forever.
Meanwhile, the brand continues to face scrutiny for its questionable practices against print consumers, including a law firm’s investigation into a firmware update that broke HP printers earlier this month.
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