Patents: Xerox Marks the Spot

One reason that Xerox Corp. has a quarter of the $500 million office copying field to itself is the more than 300 U.S. patents it holds covering its unique method of duplicating documents. None of them had ever been challenged in court until last week, when SCM Corp. and Addressograph-Multigraph Corp. took on Xerox in what could become one of the biggest patent fights in modern business history.

At issue is Xerox's domination of the dry-copying field (no messy, discoloring chemicals), the fastest-growing and most profitable part of the industry. Since Xerox came on the market in 1960 with its...

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