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A federal judge in Kentucky has issued a preliminary injunction against a North Carolina company, prohibiting it from making or selling computer chips that match remanufactured toner cartridges to Lexmark printers. The order Thursday against Static Control Components Inc. of Sanford, N.C., came from a lawsuit filed in December in which Lexmark International Inc. claimed the chips infringed on Lexmark’s copyrighted software. Lexmark, based in Lexington, Ky., asked U.S. District Judge Karl Forester for the preliminary injunction to stop the North Carolina company from manufacturing chips that adapt less expensive ink cartridges to Lexmark printers. Lexmark claims that Static Control’s “Smartek” chips violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed by Congress in 1998 to protect music from being copied and illegally distributed over the Internet. Vincent Cole, Lexmark’s general counsel, said Thursday the company was pleased. “We believe that our printing solutions and services make us unique, and we intend to vigorously protect the intellectual property that helps to set us apart from our competition,” he said in the statement. Static Control said in a statement the company was studying the ruling and expected to be able to offer a replacement chip that complies with the order. “We are disappointed in his order, and believe that after he or a jury has heard a full exposition of the facts that we will prevail,” the company’s statement said. The chip is one of thousands of components Static Control makes and supplies to companies in the laser printer cartridge industry. With printers being relatively inexpensive, manufacturers make most of their profits selling replacement ink or toner cartridges. Lexmark tried to stop other companies from supplying cartridges for its printers by installing tiny computer chips in its discounted cartridges. Without the chip, in many cases the printer won’t work. In response, Static Control designed the “Smartek” chip that enables replacement cartridges to work in Lexmark printers. Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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