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Lexmark loses round 2 in DMCA chip case

US Copyright Office lands punch

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Lexmark has suffered a setback in its attempts to use the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against a firm which makes chips that enable third party toner cartridges to work in its printers.

Microchips from Static Control Components (SCC) do not contravene the DMCA, the US Copyright Office ruled this week.

The US Copyright Office ruled that "section 1201 of the DMCA allows aftermarket companies to develop software for the purpose of remanufacturing toner cartridges and printers", The Globe and Mail reports.

The Copyright Office ruled that current exemptions to the DMCA would allow SCC to market its chip providing it reverse engineered the product rather than developed it by copying Lexmark's design.

Despite the ruling, a preliminary injunction against SCC that prohibits it from marketing chip that allow third party toner cartridges to work in Lexmark printers remains in force, according to wire reports.

Lexmark accuses SCC of infringing its software in Smartek microchips. It is seeking recourse through the DMCA as the chips circumvent Lexmark's technological controls.

Lexmark's case is that Static Control's technology permits the unauthorized remanufacturing of Lexmark Prebate toner cartridges. SCC is countersuing Lexmark with allegations that the printer manufacturer is misrepresenting its products and attempting to monopolise the toner cartridge market.

Although the DMCA allows the Copyright Office to review technologies that permit access to a copyrighted work it is unclear if the ruling against Lexmark will prove decisive in this closely-watched case. ®

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