November 27, 2020

Another DMCA Attack on Interoperation

Chamberlain Group, a maker of garage door openers, has brought a DMCA suit against Skylink Technologies. Chamberlain makes garage door openers; Skylink makes remote controls that can interoperate with Chamberlain systems, i.e., if you have a Chamberlain opener, you can operate it with a Skylink remote.

Chamberlain’s complaint is short on details, but their summary judgment memo is more informative.

According to Chamberlain, its systems use a special security code designed to prevent burglars from recording the systems signals and playing them back later to trick the door into opening. Skylink’s openers can interoperate with openers that use this code, and Chamberlain claims that violates the DMCA. Chamberlain says that the security code system is a technological measure that effectively controls access to the software in its door-opening device, and that Skylink is circumventing that system.

This case differs from the Lexmark/Static Control case, because Chamberlain claims that Skylink, rather than using the full security code algorithm, uses some kind of alternative “resynchronization” protocol that opens up the customer to more risk. The technical details of this are redacted in the documents I have seen, so I can’t conclude anything more about this argument.