Who owns your hardware: you or the manufacturer?

A wireless network in Vancouver has been shut down by a device manufacturer doing an unauthorized (by the owner of the hardware) software change. The details are in an article titled From "happy hacking" to "screw you" - the story of Meraki.

This is a typical example of the types of questions that need to get answered in technology law: if the person acquiring the hardware think they are purchasing the hardware, shouldn't their property rights be protected?

Once the manufacturer sells the hardware, their right to impose software choices on the owner should be expired. Software changes should only happen with the permission of the hardware owner, and the hardware owner should be able to completely remove any software installed by the manufacturer and install their own software (possibly that they authored themselves). The owner should have the legally protected right to remove any third party locks which disallow them from making their own software choices (IE: including a right to sue a manufacturer who doesn't give the owner any keys required to unlock).

That the manufacturer had a business model where they wanted to get per month royalties is irrelevant. If they want to retain ownership rights over the hardware then they need to "rent" rather than "sell" the hardware, and take ownership responsibilities as well. It is simply immoral and should be illegal for the manufacturer to claim ownership rights while the person possessing the hardware has all the responsibilities.