It has been revealed that highly successful Kickstarter project, the FORM 1 3D printer by Formlabs and, Kickstarter itself, are being sued by 3D systems, a firm long-established in the business.
The case in question revolves around patents in the stereolithography process used to cure resin with a laser/ultraviolet light.
3D printing is a new area that is moving much faster, driven by demand, into the affordable consumer domain than industry bigwigs would like to see happen, as this risks compromising sales and profit margins from long established monopolies.
3D Systems says that it is "well known" within the industry and that it had already been involved in several lawsuits in attempts to protect its patent rights, stating that Formlabs either must have known or chosen not to find out whether there might be a risk of patent infringement.
Opposingly, 3D Systems also stated that one of Formlab's co-founders had said one of the reasons the firm was able to offer the printer at such a low cost had been that several patents had expired "meaning that the team didn't need to pay high licensing fees to get this product to market." suggesting that Formlabs did indeed do at least some patent searching.
Should 3D Systems have a legitimate patent claim, though it seems perhaps hasty to jump into court without seemingly first attempting a settlement, there's not much Formlabs can do. What's most surprising and, perhaps further highlighting a mean-streak in the company is that it is suing Kickstarter for advertising the product and taking a percentage of donations.
It's not generally common practise to sue a firm that effectively advertises on-behalf of a client mandate. This writer is beginning to wonder if he should sue UKTV because he was irreparably harmed by the 'Go Compare' advertisements aired on the Dave channel, to which UKTV took payment for...