November 21, 2012

3D Systems sues FormLabs, Kickstarter


Claims at least one patent has been infringed upon

ROCK HILL, S.C. – 3D Systems Corporation announced today that it has brought suit in the Federal District Court of South Carolina, Rock Hill division, against Formlabs, Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Kickstarter, Inc. of New York, New York. 3D Systems said in the press release it is seeking injunctive relief and damages for infringement of one of its patents relating to the stereolithography process.

The specific patent isn’t named in the press release, but various online reports say it is this one, which describes “Simultaneous multiple layer curing in stereolithography.” It was issued in 1997 to Dennis Smalley, et al, and has been referenced numerous times in subsequent patents.

3D Systems claims “the sale and use of the Form 1 3D printers sold by Formlabs and Kickstarter infringe a U.S. patent relating to stereolithography. Formlabs sold the Form 1 3D printers to backers of its Kickstarter campaign in September and October 2012.” In fact, the company raised just shy of $3 million pre-selling its Form 1 printers at an average price of around $2,500, though it hasn’t yet shipped any of them.

“3D Systems invented and pioneered the 3D printing technology of stereolithography and has many active patents covering various aspects of the stereolithography process,” said Andrew Johnson, general counsel for 3D Systems, in the press release. “Although Formlabs has publicly stated that certain patents have expired, 3D Systems believes the Form 1 3D printer infringes at least one of our patents, and we intend to enforce our patent rights.”

When contacted for comment, FormLabs co-founder Maxim Lobovsky said the company was not prepared to comment, but would likely post something to its web site in the near future responding to the suit.

For more on Formlabs, you can see SPAR an article about the company’s view of 3D data here.

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