By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) — HP’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit it alleged intentionally designed its all-in-one printers so that they couldn’t scan or fax when they were low on ink, as a way to boost profits by increasing ink, has been rejected by a federal judge. sales.
Customers in the proposed class action said HP concealed how its printers enter an “error state” when they run low on ink, disable scanning and fax functions that don’t require ink, and force them to buy unnecessary, high-margin ink cartridges.
US District Judge Beth Lapson Freeman in a decision Thursday found sufficient claims that HP knew about the defect, citing a post on a message board where a support agent told a customer that his printer “won’t work” without ink.
The judge in San Jose, California, also said that customers can try to show that HP has a duty to disclose the defect, based on its “superior knowledge” of the printers’ potential to malfunction.
HP said in seeking the dismissal that customers failed to claim such duty or that it “actively” concealed any defect.
HP and its attorneys did not immediately respond on Friday to requests for comment. The clients’ attorneys did not immediately respond to similar requests.
The lawsuit covers US purchasers of HP All-in-One printers and sub-brands in California and Minnesota.
It is led by Gary Freund, of San Francisco, and Wayne McMath, of Minneapolis, who say they would not have bought their printers or would have paid less for them had they known about the alleged defect.
Printing products, including printers and supplies, generated $18.9 billion, or 30%, of the Palo Alto, California-based company’s revenue of $63 billion in the year ending Oct. 31, 2022.
The case is Freund et al v HP Inc, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 22-03794.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Sharon Singleton)