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Italy impose €10 million penalty on HP for deceptive and aggressive practices

December 9, 2020

The Authority ascertained that the firmware and dynamic security restrictions on the use of non-original cartridges are not adequately highlighted on the sales packages.

The Italian Competition and Market Authority has concluded a detailed investigation procedure against HP Inc and HP Italy Srl at the end of which it has ascertained that, for some years, HP has introduced significant limitations in many inkjet and laser printers sold to consumers and the use of non-genuine ink/ toner cartridges.

The two companies provide specific authentication instructions contained in the firmware – especially through a system called DS – Dynamic Security – according to which the printer recognizes the original HP cartridges and accepts them and instead refuses to print when it recognizes non-original cartridges or cartridges produced before a certain date.

In particular, according to the Authority, HP has failed to adequately inform consumers – at the time of purchase – about the presence of this relevant and significant limitation, leading them to believe that they need to replace non-original ink/ toner cartridges due to shortages or defects. of the latter and therefore to use only original HP cartridges.

These limitations have been renewed and modified through subsequent printer firmware updates, proposed by HP to consumers, once again without properly informing them of the consequences of these updates, neither at the time of their dissemination, nor on its website, nor to the when requesting information from the assistance centres.

The Authority also ascertained that through the firmware present on many printers, HP records the consumption data relating to the cartridges used, original or not: data used both to create a database useful for formulating its commercial strategies, without informing consumers, both to deny assistance for printers that have used non-original cartridges, thus hindering the provision of the legal guarantee of conformity.

Within 60 days of notification of the action, HP must submit a report on the steps taken to comply with the warning, and within 120 days it must modify the sales packages of the printers to clearly indicate the restrictions on the use of non original ink/ toner cartridges, depending on the firmware installed.

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