Canon forced to ship ‘knockoff’ ink cartridges due to chip shortage

Printer makers have long used chips to thwart third-party ink cartridge sales and drive you toward their own products, but they're now feeling the sting of those restrictions. The Register and USA Today note Canon has had to ship toner cartridges without copy protection chips due to ongoing shortages. That, in turn, has led to some ImageRunner multifunction printers incorrectly flagging official cartridges as knockoffs — Canon has even told printer owners how to bypass the warnings and deal with broken toner level detection.

We've asked Canon for comment. Some users said they've encountered similar issues with HP printers, but that company wouldn't directly confirm or deny the problems in a statement to The Register. Instead, HP said it was using a "globally diverse" supply network to stay "agile and adaptable" in the midst of chip shortages.

The printer trouble illustrates one of the common complaints about digital rights management (DRM) and other copy protection systems: they create trouble the moment their designers can't offer full support. Just ask people who bought music tied to Microsoft's PlaysForSure, for example. It's doubtful Canon, HP or others will drop their DRM chips any time soon, but this incident won't exactly help their case.

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