Lexmark leverages DMCA in toner case

In one of the more disturbing appearances of the DMCA, Lexmark is going after third party toner manufacturers. Where's the beef?
In a 17-page complaint filed on Dec. 30, 2002, the company claims the Smartek chip mimics the authentication sequence used by Lexmark chips and unlawfully tricks the printer into accepting an aftermarket cartridge. That "circumvents the technological measure that controls access to the Toner Loading Program and the Printer Engine Program," the complaint says. The Toner Loading Program checks toner levels in the cartridge, and the Printer Engine Program controls operations such as paper feed and the actual transfer of the dry ink to paper.
Ink and toner prices are, of course, where the printer companies make all their money, but I have little pity for Lexmark here. I can only hope that this case will further prove that the DMCA needs a lot of work before abuse like this will stop.

Thanks to TR reader Lo Yuk Fai for the tip.

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