What Embargo? HP Printers Find Their Way to Iran

Company skirts US law with help from overseas distributor
By Wesley Oliver,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2008 11:41 AM CST
A poll published in 2007 by Tehran's Taliya News estimated that HP had 41 percent of the printer market in Iran, while the second bestseller had 24 percent.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
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(Newser) – HP printers have become top-sellers in Tehran, despite a 13-year embargo against US companies doing business with Iran, the Boston Globe reports. An Indian-owned distributor sells HP products in Iran, enabling it to skirt American law. But questions remain: If HP execs cut the deal with Redington Gulf knowing their printers were bound for Iran, that would violate sanctions.

Use of a go-between complicates the issue, an export law specialist said. But in 1999, an HP exec touted Iran as “a big market for Hewlett-Packard printers.” Indeed, the company controls 41% of Iran’s printer market. One salesman noted the “psychological” allure of HP printers: Washington's ban makes them even more desirable to Iranians.