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HP in hot water for firmware lawsuit

January 9, 2024

Consumers challenge HP’s monopolisation of replacement ink cartridge market.

HP Inc., the renowned printer manufacturer, is currently embroiled in a significant class action lawsuit. The case, filed by consumers who purchased specific HP printer models, accuses the company of effectively forcing them to use only HP-branded replacement ink cartridges. The root of this controversy lies in firmware updates distributed by HP in late 2022 and early 2023, which rendered printers inoperative if non-HP cartridges were installed. This move, according to the lawsuit, was an attempt by HP to monopolize the replacement cartridge aftermarket??.

The lawsuit further alleges that during the same period, HP increased the prices of its branded ink cartridges and its “Instant Ink” subscription service, impacting consumer choice and finances??. HP currently holds about 34.7% of the global market share for printers, with its U.S. market share estimated to be similar. This substantial market presence has put the spotlight on their business practices??.

The crux of the issue is that the firmware updates were distributed without notifying consumers of their restrictive nature. There was no option for users to opt out of these updates, which significantly limited printer functionality with third-party cartridges??.

The impact on consumers is two-fold. Firstly, they are compelled to pay higher prices for HP-branded cartridges to maintain the usability of their HP printers. Secondly, the value of previously purchased non-HP cartridges has been lost. This situation effectively locks consumers into the HP ecosystem, as the cost of purchasing a new printer to avoid HP cartridges is economically impractical for most??.

The class action lawsuit is seeking redress for what the plaintiffs describe as HP’s strategy to charge supracompetitive prices for replacement ink cartridges, leveraging its firmware updates to maintain a stronghold in the market??.

As this legal battle unfolds, it highlights a growing concern over manufacturers’ control over aftermarket products and consumer choice. The outcome of this lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for the printer industry and consumer rights.

Categories : World Focus

Tags : Class Action Consumers Firmware HP Inc Lawsuit Pricing

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