Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against Epson

Epson printer owners William Mondigo and Richard Famiglietti have filed a class-action lawsuit against Epson America in federal court in the Southern District of California.

The two allege that Epson America systematically disables Epson printers when the owner attempts to use non-Epson ink cartridges, “ruining printers or forcing consumers to buy the more expensive Epson ink.”

Epson America, a unit of Seiko Epson, delivered software or firmware updates to Epson printers that purposely disabled those with non-Epson printer cartridges installed, Mondigo and Famiglietti allege.

The lawsuit also states:

“Specifically, Epson engaged, and continues to engage, in a systematic campaign of disabling Epson printers when the owner attempts to use non-Epson ink cartridges in an effort to improperly quash competition from third-party manufacturers.”

The lawsuit notes that Epson printer owners must agree to the terms of a software license when installing Epson printers. This software license grants permission for Epson to periodically download firmware to provide updates and fix bugs. But it also enables Epson to disable use of third-party ink cartridges, something which Epson does not state in its software-license agreement, and which owners have not agreed to.

The suit alleges that this practice violates the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act, California Unfair Competition Law, California False Advertising Law, California Computer Penal Code, and California Business and Professional Code.

Mondigo and Famiglietti are seeking class-action certification; jury trial; and compensation and damages.

HP Case

Readers may recall that in 2017, HP provided a firmware update that disabled various HP Inc. inkjet printers if users attempted to use third-party ink cartridges.

HP subsequently released a further update that enabled users to use third-party ink cartridges. However, a class-action lawsuit was filed.

In January 2019, a settlement was reached. Under the settlement, HP agreed not to reactivate Dynamic Security, a technology that disabled printers if users used third-party ink cartridges, and to pay $1.5 million to the plaintiffs.

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