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 user 2004-03-05 at 10:46:00 am Views: 88
  • #6360

    Static Control Components: ’We Feel That We Have a Chip That Complies With the Judge’s Order’

    “(One year ago) I likened our battle with Lexmark International as being the first 15 seconds of a 12-round title fight,” said Static Control Components CEO Ed Swartz. Static moved into the next round of that battle on Tuesday with the release of a series of new and completely reengineered chips compatible with Lexmark T520, T620 and T630 printer toner cartridges.

    “These chips offer features not found on any other aftermarket or OEM chip in the market today,” said Swartz. “These added features have clearly raised the bar in chip technology and, in our opinion, will provide the consumer a chip better than the OEM … Lexmark.”

    The chips mark a new chapter in the ongoing lawsuit between Lexington, Ky.-based Lexmark and Static. Lexmark filed suit against Static on Dec. 30, 2002, alleging that the Smartek replacement chips for use in the Lexmark 520/620 series printers were a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) of 1998. Lexington, Ky., District Court Judge Karl Forester awarded a preliminary injunction in favor of Lexmark on Feb. 27, 2003, barring SCC from selling its Smartek chips until the lawsuit is concluded.

    Lexmark officials argued that their copyrighted toner loading program in Lexmark T520 and T620 toner chips was infringed by similar software in the Smartek chips.

    After the injunction went into effect, SCC legal staff, engineers and product development staff carefully reviewed Judge Forester’s 53-page opinion, and worked to develop new chips that would not violate his ruling. “Our engineers and development staff have done a tremendous job working on a solution that we feel not only complies with the judge’s order, but offers better value to the remanufacturer and consumer,” Swartz said.

    “We feel that we have a chip that complies with the judge’s order,” said SCC General Counsel Skip London. “We also feel that we have the right to sell our redesigned chips. We have devoted a lot of resources to building new, more functional chips that we believe comply with the judge’s orders.”

    The new replacement chips include original features created by Static that are not available on the comparable Lexmark chip. These features offer including print quality improvement when toner is low, and chip maintenance and reset features for remanufacturers. Static filed for and received software copyrights on the new chips with the United States Copyright Office.

    The T520/620/630 chips have been on sale since Feb. 24. They are being marketed for use only in non-Prebate cartridges, or cartridges originally sold in North Carolina after Oct. 1, 2003 — the effective date of a North Carolina law allowing printer users the right to refill any cartridge, voiding contracts or purchase agreements that ban cartridges from being remanufactured. The law essentially declared Lexmark’s Use and Return Program (formerly Prebate) unenforceable in North Carolina.

    Last week, SCC filed suit against Lexmark in Lexington, Ky., seeking an order from the court declaring that Static Control has the right to sell is reengineered replacement 520/620 and 630 chips. According to London, SCC representatives presented the chip’s code to Lexmark for review last summer. To date, there have been no official comments from Lexmark as to its position on these new chips. “We’re a little surprised that they had not asked us for samples of the chip or of the code as of yet,” London said.

    “In the interest of the consuming public, we would be willing to discuss with Lexmark a license that would allow Lexmark to utilize our copyrighted, internally developed technology,” Swartz said.