Most Georgia residents are familiar with the laser printer and ink cartridge manufacturer, Lexmark International. What may not be as familiar is the business litigation filed against the company, which has gone on for more than a decade. Company officials may have hoped a decision from the United States Supreme Court would put an end to the litigation, but instead, the court has given the green light for more litigation.
Lexmark contended that Static Control Components incorrectly filed suit against it under the Lanham Act. The act provides the standing needed to file suit against a direct competitor. The issue before the court was whether a supplier — in this case, Static Control Components — to a direct competitor had standing to file a false advertising claim against Lexmark. The court ruled that the supplier does have standing.
The court was careful not to rule on the particulars of the case but left the door open for further litigation. Static Control Components manufactures a microchip sold to companies that remanufacture Lexmark ink cartridges and then sells them. Lexmark filed a lawsuit against Static Control in 2002 and sent letters to remanufacturers, advising them that using Static Control’s product would put them in violation of the law and make them guilty of intellectual property infringement. Static Control then sued Lexmark for false advertising.
It is possible that the court’s ruling could not only affect the business litigation between Lexmark and Static Control, but also any other supplier seeking to sue in a similar action. Georgia business owners may know that laws are in a constant state of flux and can change overnight with a ruling such as this one. Keeping up with the changes may prove crucial to a business looking to protect its interests.
Source: sacbee.com, Lexington firm loses false-advertising case at Supreme Court, Michael Doyle, March 25, 2014