EFF pens letter to HP
HP is facing another backlash over an alleged third-party ink ban. EFF

Disgruntled HP customers are once again reporting that their printers are rejecting third-party ink cartridges after an apparent firmware update. The controversy falls almost exactly a year after HP was forced to roll back an authentication feature that blocked non-HP ink cartridges, following pressure from consumers and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

The issue was brought to light after a German third-party cartridge vendor complained of endless phone calls from unhappy customers who had been met with an error message when using the retailer's unofficial, yet significantly cheaper, cartridges. The block appears to only impact HP printers from the OfficeJet range.

According to the vendor, each customer received the same fault text, which read: "One or more cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove them and replace with new cartridges." In a blog post, the company alleged that the kill switch-like feature had been activated by HP in a firmware update on 13 September.

IT blogger Günter Born later discovered that the problem stems from HP's Dynamic Security, which restricts compatibility to HP-made cartridges. A number of posts on HPs forums also reveals that OfficeJet owners beyond those cited by the aforementioned German vendor are indeed suffering another cartridge blocking incident.

Unlike last September's significant PR blunder, however, it appears that HP is not to blame for the headaches. "No such firmware update occurred," a HP spokesperson told ITWire. "HP continues to use various forms of authentication (including dynamic security) to prevent the use of cartridges with non-HP chips."

While there is some confusion over how the Dynamic Security feature was activated, the good news is that there's a quick and easy fix. A HP support page explains that PC and Mac users can disable the feature with a forced firmware update. Below is a list of all the impacted printers (as noted by Born), while the support page can be found here.