U.S. Supreme Court Denies Lexmark Suit

8 Jun ’05

In a very strange case, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied Lexmark’s petition to appeal the February decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal denying Lexmark’s request for an extension of an injunction that would have prevented a competitor, Static Control Components, from marketing a printer cartridge that competed with Lexmark products. Got that?

Bottom line, the Court of Appeal decision stands and there is no injunction.

The strangeness comes from the reason for the denial:

The United States Supreme Court was unable to approve Lexmark’s motion for a certiorari — which is when a higher court agrees to review a lower court’s decision — because the company filed the petition after a deadline had passed. The court sided with Static Control because the petition was never docketed with the court.

“Due to an error in calculating the filing deadline by the law firm responsible for filing the Petition for Certiorari, the petition was filed late and therefore rejected,” Lexmark said in a statement. “Accordingly, the petition was never docketed.

Just what is the amount of that negligence claim?

Odder still are Static Control’s comments after the decision:

“The latest ruling marks the fifth straight victory for Static Control Components and the end of Lexmark’s attempts to use the DMCA to create a monopoly in aftermarket supplies,” Static Control said in a statement. “Static Control now offers the only Lexmark compatible chips that have been cleared by the courts under the DMCA or copyright.” [emphasis added]

Granted that this result may have significant consequences for Static Control, and if there was ever a time to crow this is it – and in the final analysis I personally believe that this is the right result – but it’s difficult to imagine a more tortured construction of the words “cleared by the courts”.

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