Printer manufacturers \u201cdeliberately shorten the life of printers and cartridges,\u201d a French environmental and consumer protection group claims. That's against the law in France, and government prosecutors have agreed to investigate the claims.\nIf the lawsuit against the printer company, Japan-based Epson, is proven, the firm could be found guilty of breaking a little-known French law that stipulates vendors can\u2019t purposefully lower the lifespan of a product to ramp up replacement rates.\n\nA conviction could be significant for tech hardware manufacturing overall. Nabbing Epson would likely affect not only how hardware is built and sold in France, but it also could mean laws get adopted in other European territories \u2014individual nations are involved in the functioning of the EU bloc overall.\nIndeed, such a conviction against the Japanese printer maker may ultimately signal the end of a globally performed business practice, one that has been taking place since the automobile reached market saturation in 1924 and car makers began introducing model years.\nLawsuit against Epson\nThe Stop the Obsolescence Program, or Halte \u00e0 l\u2019Obsolescence Programm\u00e9e (HOP) consumer group, alleges that Brother, Canon, HP and especially Epson are flaunting a 2015-passed French law known as Article L. 441-2 of the Consumer Code. That government directive stipulates that it\u2019s prohibited, and a serious crime, if \u201ca product aims to deliberately reduce its life to increase the replacement rate.\u201d\nThe penalty isn\u2019t simply a walk in the famous Parisian Tuileries park, either. It\u2019s \u201cpunishable by two year\u2019s imprisonment and a fine of 300,000 Euros that can be increased to 5 percent of turnover,\u201d HOP says in a press release. Executives would be liable, according to British newspaper the Times (paywall).\nEpson is the first company to be implicated in such an action. Fraud is also alleged, the paper says.\nIncreasing ink prices smell fishy\nHOP isn\u2019t just complaining of obsolescence, though. An additional contention from it is the escalating price of cartridges.\nIt writes: \u201c2,062 Euros per liter of ink. [That's] twice as much as Chanel No. 5 perfume!\u201d\nThat\u2019s unreasonable, it argues, particularly when you can\u2019t use generic brands.\nMore complaints include printers being programmed to stop working after a period of time (meaning the cartridges) and a possible \u201cillegal agreement between the printer manufacturers.\u201d\n\u201cMillions of French printer owners could be harmed,\u201d it says.\nApple throttling\nHOP has plenty of action on its plate. The consumer group is also weighing in on the recent news reports that some Apple smartphone devices are throttled as they age.\nApple has acknowledged those reports and has apologized for in a letter to consumers. But it denies \u201cintentionally shortening the life of any Apple product\u201d or of nobbling the user experience to conjure up sales. The valuable brand says it\u2019s just preventing unexpected shutdowns that might occur as battery voltage drops with age.\nHOP doesn\u2019t believe it, however, and has filed an additional France-originating claim against Apple under Article L. 441-2 \u201con the basis of the crime of obsolescence,\u201d it says in a second press release.\nThe slowdown \u201cseems to have the deliberate intention of pushing Apple customers to purchase the new model,\u201d HOP claims.\nFrance joins the U.S. and Israel, which (as of the end of December) want to question Apple about planned obsolescence, according to HOP.\nUnlike the U.S. and Israel, though, \u201cFrance has made it a crime,\u201d HOP says.