Dutch Court Rules Against HP in Firmware Case

While Dutch company 123Inkt just received some bad news – a U.S. court has awarded plaintiff Epson a $17 million judgement against 123Inkt  and Worf Corporation for ink-cartridge patent infringement – in an interesting case, the Amsterdam Court of Appeals in The Netherlands has just issued a ruling for 123Inkt regarding an HP Inc. firmware update that blocked the use of third-party ink cartridges in HP inkjet printers.

According to Dutch website Twinkle Magazine, the Dutch court ruled that HP Inc. acted incorrectly when it issued a 2016 firmware update that blocked the use of third-party ink cartridges. Consequently, the court ruled, HP must pay damages to Stichting 123Inkt customers.

According to 123Inkt, in 2016, HP deliberately blocked third-party ink cartridges with a firmware update. 123Inkt then set up a foundation with which customers could make claims against HP. This foundation sued HP over the cartridge-blocking firmware. But the Dutch court issued a ruling that refused to prohibit HP from issuing firmware updates that blocked third-party ink cartridges.

However, the foundation  appealed that ruling, and the final judgment was issued last week, with the Dutch appeals court ruling that HP acted incorrectly and unlawfully when issuing the firmware update blocking the ink cartridges, and must pay damages to customers. But how much in damages still hasn’t been determined.

According to Twinkle Magazine, HP again this year issued a firmware update blocking third-party ink cartridges and the 123Inkt foundation may again take it to court.

U.S. Class-Action Lawsuits

Previously in the United States, customers filed a $1.5 million class-action lawsuit objecting to the firmware upgrade. HP settled this lawsuit in January 2019. HP agreed to pay class members some $1.5 million, and also agreed to stop preventing the use of third-party ink cartridges.

However, earlier this month, customers filed a new class-action lawsuit, alleging that HP’s  Dynamic Security caused HP printers to display fake error messages when non-HP printer ink cartridges were used, causing consumers to think that the ink cartridges were faulty.

Ultimately, the solution to these continuing customer complaints and lawsuits may be coming next year, as HP recently announced that it will introduce printers that can use third-party ink cartridges – as well as lower-priced printers that can only use HP ink cartridges. It expects to begin rolling out the models in 2020.

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