October 26, 2004 3:31 PM PDT

Ruling on refilled printer cartridges touches DMCA

In a closely watched case involving the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a federal court has ruled that a small North Carolina company can continue selling a chip that makes it possible to use refilled toner cartridges in Lexmark printers.

A federal appeals court overturned on Tuesday a preliminary injunction that barred Sanford, N.C.-based Static Control from selling its Smartek chip.

Static, which sells printer parts and other business supplies, has been defending a lawsuit brought by Lexmark, the No. 2 maker of printers in the United States. The suit claims the Smartek chip violates the DMCA, and Lexmark hopes the case will slam the brakes on the toner cartridge remanufacturing industry and compel consumers to buy its cartridges.

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