Intellectual Property

Chamberlain v. Skylink in US International Trade Court

Type: Brief
Year: 2003

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled November 24 In the Matter of Certain Universal Transmitters for Garage Door Openers, handing an important legal victory to consumers. Chamberlain, one of the world’s largest producers of residential and commercial door openers, alleged that its competitor, Skylink, violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) by producing a replacement remote control capable of activating certain garage door openers manufactured and sold by Chamberlain and asked the ITC to exclude them from the U.S. market. The case-the first claim brought to the ITC under the DMCA-was an attempt to use the controversial 1998 law aimed at limiting infringement of copyrighted movies and music to prevent competitors from offering consumers add-on and replacement parts for garage door openers. The commission rejected Chamberlain’s claim, affirming consumers’ right to buy the replacement parts of their choice, and preventing a misuse of the DMCA. On behalf of Consumers Union, Boalt’s Samuelson Clinic for Law, Technology & Public Policy submitted a brief (available for download below) in support of Skylink. The brief argued that the DMCA should not be used as a tool to suppress competition in the aftermarket for replacement parts.