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 user 2005-06-08 at 12:30:00 pm Views: 78
  • #9757

    Supreme Court rejects Lexmark petition in toner cartridge fight

    Supreme Court stays out of battle over toner

    RALEIGH, N.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court won’t weigh in on
    a closely watched copyright lawsuit in which a printer manufacturer is trying to
    stop a computer-chip maker whose parts allowed cheaper toner cartridges to be
    used in name-brand machines.

    Lexmark International Inc. said Monday it looks forward to continuing the
    fight over what it says are its intellectual property rights. The printer maker
    wants to block Static Control Components Inc. of Sanford, N.C. from selling the
    computer chips.

    Lexmark’s appeal to the Supreme Court was filed late and rejected, a
    spokeswoman for the Lexington, Ky., company said, meaning that the case returns
    to a federal district court in its hometown. The spokeswoman, Julane Hamon,
    declined to estimate what Static Control’s chip is costing Lexmark.

    Static Control contends that Lexmark engaged in anticompetitive and
    monopolistic conduct and should pay damages of more than $100 million.

    “We have contended that Lexmark, through a variety of their business
    practices, violated a number of anti-competition laws,” Static Control general
    counsel William London said.

    Previously, the toner cartridges had to be returned to Lexmark for
    replacement. Using Static Control’s chips, “remanufacturers” can make
    cartridges that work with Lexmark printers and cost less than its brand-name
    cartridges. Lexmark says Static Control is interfering with its relationship
    with customers.

    “We will continue to ask the courts to enforce existing laws governing
    contracts and intellectual property so that our laser cartridge customers can
    get the benefit of full and fair competition,” Lexmark said in a statement.

    Lexmark sued privately held Static Control in 2002, saying the computer chips
    violated the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a federal law to prevent
    people from tampering with technology.

    A federal appeals court in Cincinnati rejected that view last year.

    Static Control has continued to sell its Lexmark-compatible chips and last
    year developed a new generation it said conformed to guidelines set down by the
    appeals court.

    London declined to say how many Lexmark-compatible chips have been sold.

    Static Control supplies over 3,000 replacements parts — including
    replacement chips for Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Xerox and others copiers — to
    more than 10,000 remanufacturers worldwide. The company employs about 1,300
    people in Sanford and declares sale of more than $300 million a