DMCA defendant to stop making chip

A federal judge agrees to Static Control Components' offer to temporarily cease manufacturing a toner cartridge chip that drew a lawsuit under the controversial copyright law.

A federal judge has agreed to Static Control Components' offer to temporarily cease manufacturing a toner cartridge chip that drew a lawsuit under a controversial copyright law.

In an order made public Friday, U.S. District Judge Karl Forester accepted Static Control's proposal to halt sales of its Smartek chip until a hearing can be scheduled. A representative for the judge on Thursday said the hearing would happen soon.

Lexmark International Group, the No. 2 manufacturer of printers in the United States, sued Static Control in December 2002 for allegedly violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by selling the Smartek chip. Aftermarket toner makers use the Smartek chip to trick Lexmark printers into accepting their cartridges.

The lawsuit is one of the first brought under the DMCA, which is backed by copyright holders but has drawn fire from academics and programmers for restricting tinkering with software and hardware. Rep. Rick Boucher, R-Va., and three other members of Congress reintroduced a bill this week that would repeal key portions of the 1998 law.

A particular section of the DMCA makes it generally unlawful to circumvent technology that restricts access to a copyrighted work.

In a 17-page complaint filed Dec. 30, 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.

Lexmark said Thursday that it expects fourth-quarter earnings of 88 cents to 90 cents per share, more than the 70 cents to 80 cents per share it had projected in October. The company said sales were up 5 percent to 6 percent compared with the prior year.

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