Lexmark has failed in its attempt to wield the Digital Millennium Copyright Act against a small company that offered a way to let customers use refilled toner cartridges.
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear Lexmark's petition to seek review of its defeat before a federal appeals court, Static Control said this week. Static Control makes the "Smartek" chip that Lexmark claims violates the DMCA.
The case has received considerable attention because it's one of the first to test the limits of the DMCA, which Congress enacted in 1998 to limit Internet piracy. Under section 1201 of the DMCA, it is generally unlawful to circumvent technology that restricts access to a copyrighted work or sell a device that can do so.
In court documents, Lexmark claimed the Smartek chip mimics a technology used by Lexmark chips and unlawfully tricks the printer into accepting an aftermarket cartridge. That "circumvents the technological measure that controls access" to Lexmark's software, the complaint said.
A federal district judge ruled in favor of Lexmark, the No. 2. maker of printers in the United States, but the decision was reversed on appeal by the 6th Circuit in October.