It may seem odd, but Chamberlain Group sued Skylink Technologies under the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), alleging that Skylink’s universal garage door opener remote illegally accessed the software in the Chamberlain openers. In what is described as a landmark decision regarding technological innovation and interoperability, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals said it was okay to sell garage door remotes that worked with any brand of garage door.
Having owned several garage door openers over the years, I used the same Skylink remote with most of them, saving me the hassle of buying new remotes for each house. I’m not sure who would have foreseen the DMCA being used to prevent me from doing this, but it certainly would have been detrimental for me. I guess we’re extremely lucky that none of the home audio/video vendors saw fit to sue the makers of universal remotes, which I also use in abundance.
This seems quite a stretch for copyright law, which seems only to stifle competition and customer choice. It is not clear whether of not Chamberlain was willing to license the technology.