SANFORD,Static Control, the North Carolina firm sued by Lexmark in a dispute over replacement chips for ink cartridges manufactured by Lexmark, won a round in the legal battle Tuesday.

The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled Tuesday in favor of Static Control, lifting a preliminary injunction issued by another federal judge last year banning the sale of so-called Smartek replacement chips.

“This is a very exciting victory for us,” said Ed Swartz, CEO of Static Control, in a statement. “Not only is this a victory for our company and our industry, it is a major victory for the consuming public and American companies. This is a landmark precedent-setting case and the courts have spoken – companies cannot abuse copyright laws to create electronic monopolies and take advantage of the citizens of this great country.”

In a statement, a Lexmark spokeswoman said the company “is currently studying the opinion”.

Lexmark sued Static Control in December of 2002, saying the Smartek chips violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998.

Static Control employs more than 1,200 people and has more than $300 million in annual sales. It provides more than 3,000 replacement parts for more than 10,000 re-manufacturers.

A year ago, the US Copyright office also issued a ruling in favor of Static Control.

Static Control: