Epson Under Fire for Firmware Update That Renders 3rd Party Inks Unusable

By Bill Toulas / October 24, 2019

A class-action lawsuit against Epson in the United States reveals that the renown printer manufacturer isn’t very fond of third party ink cartridges. More specifically, plaintiffs William Mondigo and Richard Famiglietti, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, demand a jury trial against Epson America Inc., accusing them of anti-competitive, unfair, fraudulent, oppressive, and illegal conduct. The reason is that Epson pushed yet another firmware update, which enables its printers to identify ink cartridges made by third-party manufacturers and to render them unusable on its printers. Numerous users report that the error they’re getting is about using a non-genuine Epson ink. When clicking on the “continue anyway” button, they are met with a second error that says “ink cartridge cannot be recognized”.

As the lawsuit details, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these ink cartridges that causes them to fail or to damage Epson’s printers. Moreover, Epson never informed its customers that the updates would prevent them from using these products. To the contrary, the software license details only informs the customers that firmware updates improve the functionality of the printers by fixing known issues and software bugs. Allegedly, Epson’s only concern is to create a monopoly, selling their own ink cartridges to the users, which also happen to be way overpriced. As explained in the lawsuit, a set of four XL ink cartridges from Epson costs around $49, while five packs made from other vendors are sold for $35. For Epson WF-3640, a single black ink cartridge costs $20, while a third-party five-pack from Amazon is sold for less than $30. As you understand, these price differences can really build up in office environments.

Epson never officially admitted of purposefully rendering these cartridges useless via a firmware update. Instead, they simply highlight the superior quality of their own consumables, while simultaneously accepting that other, compatible consumables, may also be used with their products. All in all, the plaintiffs consider the whole situation fraudulent and deceptive, and they feel that they have been victimized by the printer manufacturer.

Now, the US District Court of California will have to decide whether Epson violated Penal Code 502, California’s False Advertising Law, Unfair Competition Law, Unfair Trade Practices Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, award compensatory and statutory damages, injunctive relief, and any other proper provision for the awarding of justice.

Which side would you take? Should Epson have the right to prevent the use of 3rd party ink cartridges? Let us know of your opinion in the comments down below, or on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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