HP Inc. is backing down on a policy that blocked third-party ink catridges.
The company will issue an optional firmware update in two weeks that will remove a security feature that prevented some untested accessories with cloned security chips from working.
"When ink cartridges are cloned or counterfeited, the customer is exposed to quality and potential security risks, compromising the printer experience," Chief Operating Officer Jon Flaxman wrote in a blog post.
"As a new company, we are committed to transparency in all of our communications and when we fall short, we call ourselves out," Flaxman said. "Although only a small number of customers have been affected, one customer who has a poor experience is one too many."
Nearly two years ago, HP announced plans to split into two publicly traded companies: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise (infrastructure, software, services) and HP Inc. (personal systems and printing). The transaction was completed in November.
"We should have done a better job of communicating about the authentication procedure to customers, and we apologize," Flaxman wrote.
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The reversal comes two days after author Cory Doctorow, on behalf of Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), penned an open letter demanding HP overturn the block. The digital rights activist accused HP of abusing its security update mechanism "to trick its customers."
According to Flaxman, the company will continue using security features "including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working."
"However, we commit to improving our communication so that customers understand our concerns about cloned and counterfeit supplies," he added.
EFF welcomed the optional update, but continue to question HP's motives. "We remain troubled by the trend of companies using digital locks to break their own products' functionality, and then representing those locks as security features," the group said in its own blog post. "These anti-features endanger Internet security while making our products less useful. We hope that other companies learn from HP's mistakes."
Earlier this month, Hewlett-Packard agreed to buy Samsung's printer business for $1.05 billion. As of Nov. 1, Samsung will spin off its Printing Business Unit into a separate company, then sell a 100 percent stake to HP Inc.
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