February 24, 2023
An October 2022 report has hit social media this week giving detailed analysis of some chips used in counterfeit products.
The report was commissioned by HP Inc and undertaken by MicroNet Solutions Inc. (MicroNet), based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and specialists in reverse engineering and integrated circuit patent infringement issues. Their services include the complete physical and electrical extraction of circuit layouts and functionality to provide evidence for relevant patent claims.
HP gave MicroNet the brief to “document the origin and composition of different toner aftermarket (AM) products and their induced printer behavior.” The goal was to identify the relationship, if any, between the different options available and manufacturers.
The summary finding of the MicroNet report was that through a “series of tests at the printer and cartridge level, along with visual inspection of the chips, there is clear evidence that Ninestar Corporation, or its subsidiaries, is the chip manufacturer of the same chips that are used in both aftermarket and counterfeit cartridges.
The report’s key findings were:
- Aftermarket chips made by Ninestar, or its subsidiaries lead [the] user to believe that counterfeit cartridges are genuine HP cartridges.
- Off-the-shelf aftermarket chips sold and made by Ninestar, or its subsidiaries identified the cartridges as genuine HP cartridges.
- Re-programmable aftermarket chips sold and made by Ninestar, or its subsidiaries can be programmed by a 3rd party to identify the cartridge either as a genuine HP or as a non-HP cartridge.
- Side by side comparison of the die markings on de-capped microcontrollers of the chip samples provide clear evidence that a) aftermarket chips found on counterfeit cartridges, b) off-the-shelf aftermarket chips sold and made by a Ninestar subsidiary, c) aftermarket chips found on cartridges made by Ninestar, and d) re-programmable aftermarket chips sold and made by Ninestar, or its subsidiaries, were all developed and made by the same company.
Neither report accuses Ninestar of being involved in counterfeiting.
Our take on this: Counterfeiting is a serious global problem affecting businesses, governments, and consumers. It involves the production and distribution of fake goods that are designed to look like genuine products. Most counterfeit goods are produced by organised crime networks and individual criminals looking to make a profit. The distribution of counterfeit goods can have severe economic and social consequences.
What is worth noting in the report’s scope is that no other parts or component producers were identified.
The crux of this report is that some chips from Ninestar or a subsidiary were found on a few counterfeit cartridges. We suspect that now that this information is in the public domain, chip sales may increase, and chip producers will probably close the loophole?
Categories : World Focus