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Form1 3D Printer and Kickstarter Get Sued For Patent Infringment 211

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the thus-began-the-printing-wars dept.
An anonymous reader writes "3D Systems, one of the big fish in 3D printer manufacturing, filed a suit against Formlabs's hugely popular Form1 printer put forth on Kickstarter. The crowdfunding effort has amassed close to 3M US Dollars, of an initial 100K requested. 3D Systems accuses Formlabs and Kickstarter of knowingly infringing one of its still valid blanket patents on stereolithography and cross-sectional printing of 3D objects. The company is probably going to go for the kill, as one can deduce from the demands on their complaint." In "The State of Community Fabrication" presentation at HOPE9, Far McKon noted that no one had yet filed a patent lawsuit against a 3D printing company, but it looks like his fears have come true.
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Form1 3D Printer and Kickstarter Get Sued For Patent Infringment

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  • by Andrio (2580551) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:01AM (#42054429)
    After all, why take time and energy creating better products when you can just set your lawyers on the competition.

    These startups must me punished for their hubris.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:18AM (#42054617)

      While I don't approve of the patent litigation, it's not fair to characterize 3D Systems as a patent troll. They do spend plenty of time and energy (and money) creating better products, as they did to create their existing products.

      • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:30AM (#42054739)

        They do spend plenty of time and energy (and money) creating better products, as they did to create their existing products.

        If their products are so much better, why are they so afraid of a little competition?

        • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:00AM (#42055119)
          Why should they invest all of the money in R&D so someone else can just take it for free?
          • Why should they invest all of the money in R&D so someone else can just take it for free?

            They did R&D for the startup? And for free? Knowingly? Then why did they do it? I suspect, however, that the startup did all their prototyping etc. on their own.

          • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @03:30PM (#42058873) Homepage

            That's the problem with patents. It presumes that the ideas are "stolen" and not independently developed.

            Why should they spend money on R&D? So they can create the product they want to sell. Other people should do the same. As far as I'm concerned, as long as it can be shown that a technology which has been patented has also been independently developed by another party, then claims of infringement should be lost. After all, if the reasoning stems from money invested in R&D, what about the R&D done by the competition? What if they actually did their own research and development? And what if they did a better job than the plaintiff?

            I'm sorry, but blood, sweat, tears and resources argument doesn't move me. Lots of and lots of people work their asses off daily and only get paid for it once. If someone does all the R&D, patents and markets their thing first and they make a profit, then they achieved their goal and established a reputation. There should be NOTHING that guarantees their business model except continued hard work and effort. This notion of doing it once and getting paid forever is just broken. Worse is the notion of getting someone else to do it once and then getting paid forever. But now we're talking about patent trolls and the entertainment industry.

        • by Xeth (614132) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:03AM (#42055143) Journal
          I think you may be misunderstanding GPP. It was a simple (somewhat pedantic) statement about how the traditional definition of a patent troll is someone that doesn't have a product. Since they have products, they're not a patent troll.
        • by darronb (217897) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:15AM (#42055311)

          You're essentially asking why bother with patents at all. The hobbyists have been copying patented innovations of these commercial 3D companies. It was only a matter of time before this happened. Before, it would have been swatting at mosquitos. Now, a rabbit's popped up with $3 million, and they're going to shoot it.

          The hobbyists have created a lot of innovation, too. The basic hobbyist MO is copy and improve. That's fine when you're copying other open source/hardware stuff... but when you copy someone's proprietary crap, you're in a grey area.

          Hobbyists will obviously argue against patents, because they don't benefit from them much at all. Commercial companies need to do something to prevent large scale ripping off of their work, or they can't survive. (Case in point: the recent MakerBot Industries change of heart... which depresses and dissapoints me but as a small manufacturer myself I understand why they might think they have to do that)

          This absolutely affects these commercial companies' bottom line, and they have every legal right to protect the investments they've made in R & D. I have a commercial 3D printer myself and I just went out of maintenance partially because a brand new Replicator 2 is possibly better and costs the same as one year's maintenance. This is an absolutely clear textbook case of what patents are supposed to be for.

          This is essentially a collusion of worlds. "Cool, I could make that" vs. someone's got to make a living. Believe me, it sucks when you know you could make something but you're just not allowed to. I have a good deal of sympathy for both sides. I've released open source software (including -very- minor contributions to the Linux kernel), I'm becoming active at my local hackerspace, AND I sell proprietary industrial products that I could not make a living doing if they were free to copy.

          • FDM has been around since the 80s it's not new. And neither 3D systems or Stratasys came up with it. S Scott Crump did. Now they may have patents on STL that's a different story. And I am sure they have BS patents around FDM but they didn't invent FDM and the tech is over 30 years old now. And that is what the Replicator 2 and RepRap use not STL so bullshit to all of this statement that they should have patent protection on FDM.

            • by darronb (217897) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @02:39PM (#42058239)

              I think STL predates FDM, actually.

              I'm being a bit lazy by not looking this up, but what about FDM using support material? I'd bet that was somewhat later than FDM itself. I'd bet there are a lot of cumulative improvements in FDM that are still covered by patents.

              So, everyone's free to make basic FDM machines as they were described by the earliest patents. There's a lot of ground Stratasys covered since then that is probably being copied and leaving even FDM producers exposed to potential legal problems.

              I'm pretty conflicted on the whole thing. Give the hackers a basic tech like FDM, and they'd make most of the same improvements themselves... but they're going to be hitting ground covered and patented by commercial entities along the way. Many many times, however, someone's going to have looked at a commercial printer for inspiration... and that's essentially an unfair shortcut.

              I think people should be free to produce what they can FOR THEMSELVES without worrying about patent infringements... which would cover most hardware hackers (sort of a fair use concept). However, once you get funding and try to commercialize something, you're subject to normal commercial rules.

          • by dubbreak (623656)

            This absolutely affects these commercial companies' bottom line, and they have every legal right to protect the investments they've made in R & D. I have a commercial 3D printer myself and I just went out of maintenance partially because a brand new Replicator 2 is possibly better and costs the same as one year's maintenance. This is an absolutely clear textbook case of what patents are supposed to be for.

            Is it though? If we look at something like the Robertson screw head, the patent allowed them a monopoly on that product which allowed them to recoup initial r&d, machine costs etc over their patent life. Fair enough. Don't want a big screw company that does Torx or Phillips to retool then blow you out of the water with lower pricing because they already have their machinery paid for.

            But in modern systems when advancement is so quick do we need these long patent lives? It's basically artificially slow

        • Its not about being afraid. If the existing system offers them legal protections, it makes zero business sense not to utilize them.

        • by necro81 (917438) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:55AM (#42055861) Journal

          why are they so afraid of a little competition

          Legitimate competition, perhaps. But I think they can justifiably object to competition that significantly copies their technology. [I am not trying to make a statement about 3D systems' patents, their validity, or any possible infringement by Form1's embodiment - I haven't evaluated it enough to judge.]

          We're not talking about an Apple-Samsung patent war here, quibbling over bounce-back software patents and rounded corners. Rapid prototyping is the kind of thing that the patent system was designed to protect: genuine, tangible technology that makes things and makes things better. All the current players in the market invested a lot of money, time, and ingenuity to create theirs; they are allowed by law to defend themselves.

      • by DickBreath (207180) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:43AM (#42054885) Homepage
        They are a patent troll if they are patenting something obvious and using that to stifle competition. Whether they are practicing the patent or not should not be the sole determiner of whether they are a patent troll.

        If you really want innovation then patent a firmware restriction that prevents printing anything rectangular having rounded corners.
        • by Applekid (993327)

          There are a lot of patents for somewhat obvious things.

          I don't think stereolithography is one of them, to be honest. This isn't even in the same class as rounded corners or rangeCheck().

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:53AM (#42055017)
        Actually, it's pretty fair to characterize 3D Systems as a patent troll. The Form 1 kickstarter received considerably more press *before it was completed* than their patent ever did, and they claim in their legal filing that the press they did receive was sufficient that both Form 1 (who is actually in the 3D printer field) AND Kickstarter (who is not) should have known everything about said patent due to it's coverage in a single blog posting online. If a single blog posting online is sufficient for persons and groups uninvolved in the field to be legally expected to be fully aware of all details of the relevant patent and it's ownership, then the coverage Form 1's project received _well in advance of completion_ would be sufficient that 3D Systems should be legally expected to have known about it, and been aware that all that was required of them to prevent any violation of their patent was communicating with Kickstarter and informing them of said patent violation, which is against Kickstarter's terms, and would have resulted in the termination of the project before any infringement could occur.

        Instead, 3D Systems willfully allowed said project to go to completion, rather than stopping it before it became a violation, and therefore if the same level of expectation of awareness their lawyers place upon Kickstarter is placed upon them, they are in fact the ones responsible for said infringement, by virtue of knowingly allowing it to proceed.

        In all likelyhood, they decided there was more money to be gained from suing a successful project in an attempt to "claim" the funds collected without having to produce any product for it (as well as "treble damages, which would likely in their minds constitute considerably more than three times the collected project funds). Therefore, yes, they are in fact patent trolls.
        • AC is right. My first thought was "wtf Kickstarter isn't even in that industry!"

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Thank you, Humpty Dumpty, but words do not mean whatever you want them to mean. You have illustrated their likely strategy, but this does not make them "patent trolls". "Patent troll" means something else:

          Patent troll is a pejorative term used for a person or company who enforces patents against one or more alleged infringers in a manner considered aggressive or opportunistic with no intention to manufacture or market the patented invention.

          Seems one crucial criterion is missing from this case.

          • by lxs (131946)

            Two questions: What is the source of that passage and how are they the final authority on the meaning of this term.
            Thanks in advance for your eloquent ans exhaustively documented reply.

        • by wjousts (1529427)

          It is not the patent holders responsibility to publicize their patents. It is the responsibility of any inventor to do a patent search first to understand the patent landscape and determine where they have freedom to operate.

          Ignorance is not a defense in the eyes of the law.

          • It is not the patent holders responsibility to publicize their patents.

            It just occurred to me: might this be the very thing which is needed in order to repair the patent system? What if patent enforcement did require that the patent holder could demonstrate that they put great effort/expense into publicity?

            Can anyone think of a downside? Sure, it's an expense and no one wants invention to be expensive, but it's got to be far less expense than independent parallel patent searches by the thousands/millio

          • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @05:50PM (#42060389)

            It is the responsibility of any inventor to do a patent search first to understand the patent landscape and determine where they have freedom to operate.

            Bullshit. You have absolutely no affirmative obligation to perform a patent search. In fact, it amounts to negligence to do so, because the USPTO's policy of rubber-stamping everything that crosses their desks means that whatever you're going to do almost certainly is covered by multiple trivial patents. If it can be shown that you were aware of those patents, any damage awards will be trebled.

          • It is not the patent holders responsibility to publicize their patents. It is the responsibility of any inventor to do a patent search first to understand the patent landscape and determine where they have freedom to operate.

            Ignorance is not a defense in the eyes of the law.

            This argument is absurd because there are simply so many patents - no small company could possibly be able to search through them to make sure they aren't infringing. I don't know if you have seen this article [bbc.com] in which they quote an estimate, made by the American Intellectual Property Law Association, of the total cost if each software company employed enough patent lawyers to check through even a year's worth of software patents, spending only 10 minutes on each: $1.5 trillion, nearly 10% of the US GDP. It

        • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @12:45PM (#42056611) Homepage Journal
          Kickstarter doesn't give out money unless the project goes all the way to completion and meets its goals. There wouldn't be much point in suing them before the Kickstarter was over, they would just kill the Kickstarter and have no money to sue over. You have to wait until they've got a few million bucks. That's how patent trolling works.
    • by Fuzzums (250400)

      Why would you invest in product improvements when you can hire lawyers?

  • In "The State of Community Fabrication" presentation at HOPE9, Far McKon noted that no one had yet filed a patent lawsuit against a 3d printing company, but it looks like his fears have come true.

    It's not really a surprise, but was probably only a matter of time. If there is money to be made, patents and lawsuits will be filed.

  • Thanks for the Info (Score:5, Informative)

    by amiga3D (567632) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:04AM (#42054461)

    Now I know who I'll never buy anything from. Anything from 3D systems should be blacklisted. I wonder what they'd do if no one bought any of their stuff.

    • by kav2k (1545689)

      I wonder what they'd do if no one bought any of their stuff.

      MORE lawsuits?

      That's profitable, you know.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is the new America! They don't need to sell stuff, just sue the people who do and take their money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:06AM (#42054473)

    The patent in the link has the limitation: "the support structure selectively having different energy levels applied to it at at least the down-facing interfacing region than do the intermediate region and the object to thereby create weak points with less solidification in the solid state transformed liquid medium than the intermediate region and the three-dimensional object at at least the down-facing interfacing regions to facilitate ease of removal of the support structure from a completed three-dimensional object".

    So if Form 1 software is tweaked not to do this, then it would not infringe. At the same time, by the filing of the lawsuit, 3D Systems may have done irreperable harm to Form 1. Counter suit anyone?

    • by imsabbel (611519)

      A counter suit against somebody for filing a (as it seems) justified suit concerning real patent violation?

      Why ? What would be that point? If this does irreperable harm to Form 1, it just proves that their whole buisness depented on violating that patent.

      • by suutar (1860506)
        Not necessarily. Bad publicity surrounding the patent accusation can damage their business even if the accusation is found to be false.
        • by suutar (1860506)
          I take it back, I misunderstood one premise of your statement in this part of the discussion: that the suit is in fact valid. You are correct.
    • by TheGavster (774657) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:53AM (#42055015) Homepage

      Unfortunately, the automatically generated, easy to remove support structures were a key feature that form 1 advertised for the machine (probably second only to the high resolution of the prints). The tool becomes much less versatile without them.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        maybe they should have gone with someone else writing the sw?

        I mean, replicatorg, slic3r and some other slicing sw do support structures with varying success(and parameters) for ease of removal.

      • by mattr (78516)

        Isn't this just like those polystyrene model kits for kids that would have all the parts connected to the main plastic piping by thin, short stems where they could be easily broken off by hand?
        That's been around at least 30 years easy.

    • So if Form 1 software is tweaked not to do this, then it would not infringe. At the same time, by the filing of the lawsuit, 3D Systems may have done irreperable harm to Form 1. Counter suit anyone?

      If Form 1 currently infringes, such that they would have to tweak their software to not infringe, then 3D Systems did nothing wrong in filing their lawsuit. A countersuit on such grounds would be frivolous and unjustified, and only get them into more trouble.

    • by Clovis42 (1229086)

      So if Form 1 software is tweaked not to do this, then it would not infringe. At the same time, by the filing of the lawsuit, 3D Systems may have done irreperable harm to Form 1. Counter suit anyone?

      You are suggesting that they remove the part that they are being sued for, which pretty much indicates that the plaintiff was correct. Then they countersue because the plaintiff's totally valid patent suit did them irreparable harm? Sounds foolproof!

  • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:07AM (#42054487)

    The US have brought this onto themselves, now live with the patent mess and watch the US economy sue itself into oblivion and slowly self-destruct.

    • The US won't sue itself into oblivion. The US will sue itself into prosperity! Think of the boost to the economy of all that money changing hands. Think of the employment opportunities for patent lawyers, judges, court clerks and paralegals. Think of the courthouse construction boom. Think of the children! It has long been the dream of mankind to effortlessly gain wealth without doing any actual hard work. Patents are the realization of that dream. Eventually, we won't even need scientists or engine
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:09AM (#42054509) Homepage

    When I make something as simple as a dovetail box, when it's time to cut off the lid, I carefully do not cut the lid all the way off, leaving some uncut areas around the edges to hold the lid in place so that the saw blade doesn't bind.

    The patent in question is for generating supports to hold a model in place as it's being printed --- if one does this same thing in a subtractive process, it's obvious that one would be able to in an additive process.

    William

    • by ledow (319597) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:20AM (#42054649) Homepage

      Have you never had to pull small plastic model parts from a sprue?

      Seems to me that this is a necessary and obvious part of doing any sort of 3D modelling in any kind of material, or things won't mould/print properly (because it's not technically possible for them to float in space while you work on them).

      If anything, I would hope the patent was dismissed on the grounds of obviousness, but certainly it should be obvious to one "skilled in the art" of 3D printing. And, failing that, if they just got some reasonable and non-discriminatory patent licensing terms, there's a few million dollars lying about that they could have a chunk of just by NOT suing.

      • by oGMo (379)

        And, failing that, if they just got some reasonable and non-discriminatory patent licensing terms, there's a few million dollars lying about that they could have a chunk of just by NOT suing.

        A few million dollars is nothing .. a fraction, even less. I'm guessing these guys would be happy to spend a few million dollars stifling any competition and clutching on to their dying monopoly for just a bit longer.

      • Remember that this patent was filed in 2000. I think it's pretty safe to say that a lot of things that are common practice in injection molding were not exactly obvious when translated to 3D printing. It's easy to look at it now and say "of course," but back then it wasn't exactly commonplace.
    • But, on a computer!

    • by Dr. Evil (3501)

      If I read the patent correctly, it seems they're varying the power in the laser to create a weak point at the break-off part of the support structure.

      • by dmbasso (1052166)

        Wow! Who could have possibly think that? Genius (U+2e2e, damn /., allow unicode already!)

        I'll start teaching classes for kindergarten, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to steal dozens of patentable ideas!

        • by Dr. Evil (3501)

          I agree completely, some of these patents are stupid.

          On the upside, it shouldn't be tooo hard to circumvent if the claims are narrow.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:10AM (#42054525)

    Seems as though the patent is legit. Although it's not nice of them to sue without talking to the From1 builders first. ... Or did they attempt to do that and got rejected? If so, it's their given right to start legal action.
    Could Form1 licence the patent is the next question I'd ask.

    • by Joehonkie (665142) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:19AM (#42054637) Homepage
      To me this looks like the 3D printing version of an " X but on a phone" patent. Using a break-away scaffolding on a solid object is a classic part of casting.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You may not have read the patent carefully enough (or gotten past the 80-ish pages of drawings). What the patent is actual claiming is a way of getting higher resolution out of stereolithographic materials by blending cross-sectional layers that have a resolution greater than that of the material. By using the claimed method of blending those layers and their cure times in just the right way, you can get thinner (higher-resolution) cross-sectional layers than the material, would get alone.

        It was a novel and

      • by PurpleCarrot (892888) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:45AM (#42054913) Homepage

        You may not have read the patent carefully enough (or gotten past the 80-ish pages of drawings). What the patent is actual claiming is a way of getting higher resolution out of stereolithographic materials by blending cross-sectional layers that have a resolution greater than that of the material. By using the claimed method of blending those layers and varying the cure exposure times in just the right way, you can get thinner (higher-resolution) cross-sectional layers than the material, if cured using normal layer-by-layer techniques, would get alone.

        It was a novel and non-obvious advance in stereolithographic techniques.

        • by Joehonkie (665142)
          Oh. That sounds pretty valid. My bad.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So to compress the 80 pages of drawings into stuff a regular geek can understand: they are antialiasing, in the z-axis.

          Stop the world, I want to get off.

    • by TheSpoom (715771)

      Why should Form1 allow their competition to exist if they can eradicate them?

    • by Grond (15515) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:03AM (#42055147) Homepage

      Although it's not nice of them to sue without talking to the From1 builders first

      Since the 2007 MedImmune v. Genentech [wikipedia.org] case it has been very difficult for a patentee to discuss potential infringement or licensing with another party without creating declaratory judgment jurisdiction [wikipedia.org]. DJ jurisdiction allows the alleged infringer to file a suit for a declaratory judgment that the patent is invalid, unenforceable, or uninfringed (or some combination). The big advantage is that it lets the alleged infringer pick the time and place of the suit. So patentees have become more likely to file suit and talk about settlement later rather than trying to negotiate a license and then filing a suit only if that fails.

    • by guttentag (313541)

      Seems as though the patent is legit.

      You don't think it's fabricated? That's certainly odd. I thought the plaintiff was known for its fabrication reputation.

  • by Danathar (267989) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:11AM (#42054549) Journal

    I can see them going for the Kickstarter project, but going for Kickstarter itself?

    Yea, great business model. Piss off nerds that use a HUGELY popular web site. [sarcasm]

    • by kiehlster (844523)
      Yeah, I don't see the point of going after Kickstarter itself either. Kickstarter is just a middleman for acquiring funds. How would Kickstarter know that Form1 was avoiding patent licensing? 3D Systems is in the wrong for suing Kickstarter, but they have a case as far as Form1's project goes.
    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:34AM (#42054783) Homepage

      Yea, great business model. Piss off nerds that use a HUGELY popular web site. [sarcasm]

      You might be surprised to find out that nerd rage doesn't go a long way to intimidate corporations and lawyers.

      Us pissing and moaning about such things doesn't really tend to actually change much.

      And, of course, that idiot who heads the USPTO will claim this is how the system is supposed to work and that it's driving innovation. It's not, but he'll still continue to claim that.

    • Yea, great business model. Piss off nerds that use a HUGELY popular web site. [sarcasm]

      Yeah, that seemed to work so well with the iPhone. I hear that Apple will be going bankrupt any day now.

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:22AM (#42054657) Homepage

    as one can deduct from the demands

    I have deduced that someone has made a typo.

  • by Xeth (614132) on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @10:23AM (#42054669) Journal
    The purpose of patents is to ensure that people can spend a lot of money on research, with some kind of general guarantee that it can pay off for them. Making support struts thinner at the point of contact doesn't really strike me as something that resulted from a protracted compaign of research, but rather an isolated flash of insight. Those flashes of insight aren't irrelevant; they're important to making things move forward. But they don't need to be patented; people will have them anyway. In order to encourage the progress of science and the useful arts, I think one really only needs to protect the things that require a great deal of effort to discover.
    • by andydread (758754)

      The purpose of patents is to ensure that people can spend a lot of money on research, with some kind of general guarantee that it can pay off for them.

      actually? thats not correct. According to the US constitution " The Congress shall have power...To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries" In exchage for publishing the details of your invention. The promotion of the progress of science and useful arts relies on you publishing the details of your invention. When you do this the government secures that exclusive right to

      • by Xeth (614132)
        You speak of the ultimate end, I spoke of the local mechanical one. Both are correct; patents are intended to allow you to profit, in the hopes that the profit motive will drive innovation.
  • These guys suing Kickstarter makes about as much sense as Apple suing Wal-Mart for selling Samsung tablets and phones. Are we going to expect Wal-Mart, Best Buy and eBay to start doing patent checks on everything they put on their shelves or list on their site? If by some strange quirk this case moves forward with Kickstarter attached, that will be the legal expectation by precedent.

    IANL, but in the complaint they may have already given Kickstarter cause to get removed. They mention Kickstarter's TOS and

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Or maybe a tiny patentholder (and possible troll...I don't care to research it enough to differentiate) suing Nintendo and many of Ninitendo's biggest retailers [gameinformer.com] for the WII allegedly violating a patent on handheld pointer technology.

      It makes exactly as much sense. It may make no sense to an outside observer, but it seems to be a legitimate outcome of the thought process: "Manufacturer, you're violating my patent and making money off of it. Retailer, you're making money too, by supporting Manufacturer's viol

  • This is the correct link for the patent at issue: http://www.google.com/patents/US5597520 [google.com]
  • Rep-rap and the like should not worry too much. IANAL but upon reading the patent claims (all of which expand on claim 1) the primary innovation seems to be curing the resin to a lesser degree to create weak points in the support structure. If you're extruding plastic from a nozzle this IMHO does not apply. So I looked at the Form1 website and indeed they are curing a resin to create solid objects. Bummer, cause that method is in may ways better than extruding melted plastic and only requires a single axis
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @11:28AM (#42055465)

    To be honest, 3d systems is the microsoft of the 3d printing community, they've been buying everybody out, even the small guys who make diy printers, and buying up all the patents. I'm going to guess that Formlabs refused to be bought up into 3D systems borganism, so they're suing them.

    3d systems also does other evil things like charging lots for ink(should I call it toner instead?) and punish you if you use any ink that isn't from them. This is especially troublesome when you're using specialty inks to make real parts where you need special properties like fire resistance, something that 3d systems more often than not doesn't offer. Lately they've been trying to push this new cartridge system that uses RFID to make sure you're only using their cartridges. Luckily, it's not catching on.

    3d systems is universally hated by all in the 3d printing community.

  • The complaint clearly states they are filing suit based on the 520 [google.com] patent.
    • by Erich (151)
      And IANAL, but it looks like the independent claims have a part that can be worked around; for example, copying or shifting data from one layer to the next.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx.b c . ca> on Wednesday November 21, 2012 @01:53PM (#42057575) Journal

    What the heck would kickstarter have to do with it?

    If it's a patent violation, then it's a patent violation by the person who infringed on the patent. All kickstarter did was provide a venue for raising and delivering the funds.

    This is like holding the Mint to blame for a bank heist.

    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      What the heck would kickstarter have to do with it?

      According to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-20434031 [bbc.co.uk], Kickstarter get a 5% (?) cut of the money pledged to $PROJECTNAME$, which seems to be sufficient involvement to satisfy enough lawyers to get them co-cited.

      Whether it sticks ... is another question.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Wow.... just wow. That's daft.

        I would liken it to the notion of holding the government partially accountable for tax fraud because if people didn't have to pay taxes, then there wouldn't be tax fraud in the first place.

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