Region encoding printer cartridges

Taking a cue from the practice of region encoding of DVDs, hardware manufacturers in US have started making their products only usable in the country of their production.

H-P has quietly begun implementing “region coding” for its highly lucrative print cartridges for some of its newest printers sold in Europe. Try putting a printer cartridge bought in the U.S. into a new H-P printer configured to use cartridges purchased in Europe and it won’t work. Software in the printer determines the origin of the ink cartridge and whether it will accept it.

The company introduced region-coding on several printers in the summer so it won’t have to keep altering prices to keep pace with currency movements, says Kim Holm, vice president for H-P’s supplies business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. H-P eventually plans to introduce the concept across its entire line of inkjet printers, he adds.

This comes at a time when the sliding dollar has meant that H-P ink cartridges sold in Europe are becoming much more expensive than equivalent ones in the U.S.

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