One in the eye for the printer manufacturers: IDG reports that a ruling this week from the U.S. Copyright Office could have broad effects on the market for low-cost, third-party printer cartridges.Lexmark is suing manufacturer Static Control Components (SCC) of Sanford, North Carolina, which makes computer chips for third-party ink cartridges. Lexmark says SCC’s chips contain copyrighted Lexmark computer code and consequently violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ban on circumventing digital technology that protects copyrighted material.
Without taking a position on whether SCC’s chips illegally incorporate Lexmark code, the Copyright Office has ruled that the DMCA does not block such usage.
Last year Lexmark began using a chip in some of its cartridges that communicates with the company’s printers and verifies that the cartridge is from Lexmark. Without that verification, the cartridge won’t work. SCC’s Smartek chips mimic the Lexmark chips so third-party cartridges can pose as official ones.