HP Renounces the $30 million Case against Datel

HP filed a “Notice of Voluntary Dismissal without Prejudice” to the US District Court, California Northern District, indicating it is no longer pursuing its lawsuit against Datel Holdings Ltd. (Datel).

On June 23, 2014, Datel was sued by HP in the California federal court for “stealing the master-key security codes in the chips used in HP ink cartridges”. Datel was facing a US$30 million charge for fees. According to The Recycler, Datel took proactive actions to seek the dismissal by stating that “HP’s lack of facts, standing, or evidence that it acquired the means to copy the chips were ‘improper’ as reverse engineering is not considered an ‘improper means’ of acquiring information.”

Further, Datel pointed out, HP only alleged that it “cracked the security used by HP’s ink-cartridge microchips”, which is entirely permissible under California’s trade secrets statute. Datel added that HP could not “assert misappropriation of trade secrets” for his company, ST Micro, had produced development kits for customers to develop software and generate firmware for chips.

The master-key code used by HP ink cartridge and printer was expected to enable the ink cartridge to communicate with the printer and consequently be accepted by the printer. In this way, HP printers could identify whether the cartridge is the original one and thus prevent illegal cartridges from being used.

In the days following June 23, 2014, other aftermarket chip manufacturers issued statements distancing themselves from Datel’s alleged activities.


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