Lexmark has won the first round in its controversial legal action accusing printer cartridge remanufacturer Static Control Components (SCC) of infringing its copyright.
The US District Court in the Eastern District of Kentucky issued a preliminary injunction against SCC in support of Lexmark's suit, which was filed in December last year.
Lexmark claims that SCC's Smartek chip infringes its software copyrights, and breaches the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by making it possible for people to bypass Lexmark's technological controls, which prevent empty toner cartridges being refilled and reused.
The pre-trial court order prohibits SCC from making, selling or otherwise distributing remanufactured laser toner cartridges or other products incorporating its Smartek microchip.
SCC argued that the technology preventing customers from buying refilled cartridges from suppliers other than Lexmark is anti-competitive.
While the court agreed that competition is in the public interest, it said that Lexmark's copyright has almost certainly been infringed.
In passing down his ruling, Judge Karl Forester said: "The Court has no trouble accepting SCC's claim that public policy generally favours competition.
"The Court finds, however, that this general principle only favours legitimate competition.
"Public policy certainly does not support copyright infringement and violations of the DMCA in the name of competition."
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