United States: Static Control Components Prevails In Copyright Case
Last Updated: November 3 2004

Static Control Components Prevails In Copyright Case

Federal Appeals Court Decision on Behalf of McDermott Will & Emery Client, SCC, Provides Court Interpretation of Digital Millennium Copyright Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. (November 2, 2004) — McDermott Will & Emery client, Static Control Components (SCC) prevailed in a federal appeals courtroom, when the three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati vacated a preliminary injunction that barred SCC from making or selling computer chips that match remanufactured toner cartridges from Lexmark in Lexmark International, Inc. v. Static Control Components, Inc. The case began in December 2002 when Lexmark filed a lawsuit accusing SCC of violating copyright law as well as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The decision in this precedential, highly visible case has broader implications for all aftermarket replacement parts industries. The court's decision indicated that the district court had incorrectly applied the law governing the copyrightability of a short computer program that Lexmark inserted on its laser computer printer toner cartridges in order to stifle competition from after market sellers. The court further found that SCC's copying of that program, which it used as the "key" to a software "lock" could be fair use. Finally, the court held that the anticircumvention provisions of the DMCA did not apply where Lexmark only protected against the use of the computer programs, but did not protect against reading or copying the underlying computer program code.

Court judge Gilbert Merritt, advocated a firm stance against Lexmark, stating: "We should make clear that in the future companies like Lexmark cannot use the DMCA in conjunction with copyright law to create monopolies of manufactured goods for themselves," in his opinion.

McDermott's legal team on the appeal was led by partners Seth Greenstein, who argued the appeal and Melise Blakeslee, and included Miller Baker and Ann Brose with assistance from Richard Rogers, James Smith and Robin Bowen.

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