Due to the chip shortage, Canon’s ink cartridges can no longer be equipped with built-in DRM technology, so the manufacturer is asking customers to bypass warnings.
Ink cartridges from various printer manufacturers have been coming with some built-in checks for some time now to ensure that customers do not use cheaper third-party cartridges. The standard argument usually revolves around ‘quality protection’, ‘customer experience’ and more. However, in practice, this mainly concerns a business model in which printers themselves are sold fairly cheaply, and the profit mainly comes from (expensive) ink cartridges.
However, how far a company will go to force customers to use its own cartridges varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, in recent years, HP has been sued by consumer groups when it was found that it completely blocked its own printers if the customer tried to use a different brand of cartridge.
It’s not that strict at Canon yet, and that’s a good thing because the current economic situation forces the company to take a new approach. Most manufacturers provide cartridges with this kind of DRM protection technology by building a small chip into them. The printer then checks the chip when you install the ink cartridge to make sure it’s an approved cartridge.
However, the chip shortage currently affecting many sectors means that chips can be used for better purposes than ink. Canon has therefore decided to no longer build the chips in cartridges for the ImageRunner devices… so that they are no longer automatically accepted by their own printers. Thus, the company provides German customers with a small guide to avoiding printer warnings about generic cartridges.
“Due to the worldwide shortage of semiconductor components, Canon is currently facing a challenge to find certain electronic components used in the consumables for our multifunction printers,” according to Canon’s German-language website. “To ensure the supply of these consumables, we have decided to stop equipping them with semiconductor components until supply is restored.”
The chip that is no longer processed in the cartridges lets you know, among other things, when the ink is low but doubles as a form of authentication. If the printer does not find the chip, the device assumes that the ink has run out. Canon explains that you can get around this fairly easily by clicking away from the error message via ‘OK’, ‘Close’ or ‘I agree’, depending on the model. Canon also subtly reports that it does not expect any real technical problems from using unchiped cartridges, at most a lesser experience because you may not immediately know when the toner will run out.