Rubén Marcos A case that went before the Supreme Court yesterday has a very long history. Lexmark sued Static Control Components (SCC) in 2002, arguing that SCC shouldn’t be allowed to reverse-engineer its printers to help others create replacement toner cartridges, because of copyright law. In 2004, an appeals court ruled in favor of SCC, and that ruling has become a cornerstone of DMCA-era copyright law. SCC didn’t actually make toner cartridges for the “aftermarket,” but it helped others do so. Lexmark installed microchips in its toner cartridges and in its printers that prevented any cartridges from other companies from being used; but SCC figured out how to duplicate those microchips and sold them, along with other items needed to compete in the printer-cartridge aftermarket, to various companies.

The dispute got very heated, with Lexmark ultimately going to SCC’s customers to say that the company was infringing on Lexmark’s intellectual property.

According to SCC, Lexmark told customers that SCC was breaking the law. Lexmark “misled… customers of SCC’s products that license agreements prohibit remanufacturing Lexmark toner cartridges when no license agreements actually exist.”     

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