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Form1 3D Printer and Kickstarter Get Sued For Patent Infringment

Unknown Lamer posted about a year and a half ago | from the thus-began-the-printing-wars dept.

Patents 211

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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211 comments

Plstic cock ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054393)

I print my cock in 3d for the lady !!!!

She suck the plastic.

mmmmmm...so good plastic 3d cock.

Re:Plstic cock ? (1)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054795)

Is it technically possible or feasible to put some sort of flavoring into the 3D printer plastic material?

Re:Plstic cock ? (1)

sFurbo (1361249) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054939)

Even better, you can print in chocolate [time.com]. Of course, that might not be a habit you would want to induce in "the lady", as GPP puts it.

Re:Plstic cock ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055043)

She sticks it in, you eat it out when it melts. Mmm hairy tuna chocolate.

Re:Plstic cock ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055751)

can this thing print out greased up yoda dolls?

printed cocks and pussies galore (2)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055099)

I print my cock in 3d for the lady !!!!

She suck the plastic.

mmmmmm...so good plastic 3d cock.

not unsurprisingly enough this subject comes up just about every time 3d printing is discussed after hours. that or pussy.

anyhow, with objets(a firm) style jet printers you can print rubber-like parts(it uses a resin and uv.. but an inkjet style head, it's a pretty cool technique but sadly I suppose it's patent encumbered as well. also it's not very fast, but makes super nice models. ).

now excuse me while I go back to cutting up a figurine mesh model for making a butt-bowl(seriously, check thingiverse in a day or two) with my replicator(fdm style machine, like repraps and all cheap machines).

now, there probably was a reason why nobody had built a cheap sla machine before for sale. what sucks about the company suing form1 is that apparently they didn't even tell _what_ patent it is. maybe it's the orientation of the model? maybe it's heating the fluid or some shit like that which could be worked over. anyhow, they can go suck a fat one - the process isn't _that_ novel in principle once you got access to the resin.

Don't innovate, litigate! (5, Insightful)

Andrio (2580551) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054507)

I shed a tear when Steve Jobs said that.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

qbel (1792064) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054569)

Just curious, are you talking about this quote?:

"And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren't the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It's the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what's the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy. John Akers at IBM is the consummate example. Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they're no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn't. Look at Microsoft — who's running Microsoft? (interviewer: Steve Ballmer.) Right, the sales guy. Case closed. And that's what happened at Apple, as well."

Citation: http://allaboutstevejobs.com/sayings/stevejobsquotes.php [allaboutstevejobs.com]

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (4, Interesting)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055011)

Just curious, are you talking about this quote?:

"And how are monopolies lost? Think about it. Some very good product people invent some very good products, and the company achieves a monopoly. But after that, the product people aren't the ones that drive the company forward anymore. It's the marketing guys or the ones who expand the business into Latin America or whatever. Because what's the point of focusing on making the product even better when the only company you can take business from is yourself? So a different group of people start to move up. And who usually ends up running the show? The sales guy. John Akers at IBM is the consummate example. Then one day, the monopoly expires for whatever reason. But by then the best product people have left, or they're no longer listened to. And so the company goes through this tumultuous time, and it either survives or it doesn't. Look at Microsoft — who's running Microsoft? (interviewer: Steve Ballmer.) Right, the sales guy. Case closed. And that's what happened at Apple, as well."

Citation: http://allaboutstevejobs.com/sayings/stevejobsquotes.php [allaboutstevejobs.com]

Short form: "Nothing succeeds like Success". It's why most Free Markets end up destroying themselves. If even one participant can rise above the common herd, positive feedback mechanisms begin to form whereby the winners get bigger at the expense of the losers and the bigger they get, the harder the task of competing with them becomes. Eventually most, if not all competitors become insignificant or extinct and the driving forces for the winners get replaced with forces unrelated to what originally made them winners.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055239)

So -- isn't there a kickstarter for wannabe-litigators?

Cobbling up a convincing-sounding lawsuit requires significant effort, but can pay off hugely.

After that, maybe a kickstarter for military coups ....

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (3, Insightful)

crazyjj (2598719) | about a year and a half ago | (#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?

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (4, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055119)

Why should they invest all of the money in R&D so someone else can just take it for free?

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055867)

Because it benefits us,the people.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

ratbag (65209) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056113)

Because it benefits us,the people.

At the expense of them, the company.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42056201)

Only until no one actually innovates and instead waits for someone else to blow their R and D budget so they can make knock offs at a higher margin.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056213)

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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (4, Insightful)

Xeth (614132) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055143)

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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (4, Insightful)

darronb (217897) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055373)

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?

Because this competitor is benefiting from 3D Systems $10+ Million dollars a year research and development

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055389)

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

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (3, Insightful)

necro81 (917438) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055861)

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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (4, Insightful)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054885)

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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055675)

Whether they are practicing the patent or not should not be the sole determiner of whether they are a patent troll.
Hate to break it to you...

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (1)

Applekid (993327) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056271)

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().

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055821)

Someone email this to the lawyers. Wonderful +1.

Re:Don't innovate, litigate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055001)

After all, why take time and energy creating better products when you can just copy the competition.

These startups must me punished for their hubris.

Only a matter of time (1)

azalin (67640) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054447)

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 (4, Informative)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Thanks for the Info (1)

kav2k (1545689) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054513)

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

MORE lawsuits?

That's profitable, you know.

America, F-Yeah! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054523)

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

Re:Thanks for the Info (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054543)

That's pretty obvious....they'll sue whoever is successful in the industry.

Re:Thanks for the Info (1)

kiehlster (844523) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054871)

That will probably happen, but I have an idea, a painful one, but it could work. We could abandon the industry that is held captive by the patent(s). If everyone abandons the industry and boycotts the industry, perhaps the PTO will wake up and listen to the people on patent reform. Mr. President wants the country to have jobs, and the 3D printing industry is a good job stream, but if we let the industry fall on its face because of patent issues, it'll look bad for the administration. Perhaps then the president will push for patent reforms.

Re:Thanks for the Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055537)

The first problem with this is getting enough people to cooperate in the boycott to make it work - this will never happen, since too many people in charge of the large businesses that make use of the 3D printing industry hate "nerds" with a passion bordering on mania, and will deliberately prop up any business that is being boycotted by those people they used to stuff into lockers in highschool.

The second problem, is that even if you DID manage to gather up enough support for an effective boycott, the PTO, the relevant lawyers, and the President will all blame the problem on the people doing the boycotting, claiming they're "terrorists" and trying to arrest them for interfering with the flow of business and jobs in the US. Net result: people organizing the boycott will get sued into submission and/or arrested and detained overseas in a terrorist detainment camp, boycott crumbles, PTO claims this as proof that the patent system is perfect and wonderful.

Net result: opposite of intended effect.

Re:Thanks for the Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054571)

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

They'd file more patent lawsuits...

Re:Thanks for the Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054623)

Until they go the way of the content Mafia, and create "studies" that count non-buy from them (including potential but not real ones, and ones where the competition got the sale) as a "theft" and lobby for laws that incriminate not buying from them.

Don't say it won't happen. It already has. And don't say they can't top even that. They will. The delusion that you could "own" information or ideas, has to stay alive, no matter what. Because they built their whole world model and self-acceptance on it. Stopping that feels like dying to them. And in fear of death, all social rules and morals break down.

Software patch might overcome this patent (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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?

Re:Software patch might overcome this patent (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054519)

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.

Re:Software patch might overcome this patent (3, Insightful)

TheGavster (774657) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055015)

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.

Re:Software patch might overcome this patent (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055195)

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.

Re:Software patch might overcome this patent (3, Insightful)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055583)

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.

Re:Software patch might overcome this patent (2)

Clovis42 (1229086) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056129)

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!

Bre will be happy (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054481)

The Replicator 2 might take off in it's new target market if FORM1 get taken out of the equation before they get started. Lets hope so, Pettis is the personification of the open source/hacker spirit and it's only fair that he should replace Steve Jobs as the undisputed king of the hipsters.

Re:Bre will be happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054901)

Not everyone in the open source/hacker/maker world thinks that of him...

Not surprising (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Not surprising (2)

DickBreath (207180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054997)

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 engineers anymore because everyone can think of some idea, however trivial, that they could patent. We could patent the process of suing over patents. No more work, and unlimited wealth! It will be a true utopia on earth I tell you. A dream made reality. The patent system is working as intended.

(I hope I don't have to put a sarcasm tag around that.)

Obvious --- craftsmen have always done this (3, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054509)

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

Re:Obvious --- craftsmen have always done this (3, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054649)

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.

Re:Obvious --- craftsmen have always done this (1)

oGMo (379) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055227)

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.

Re:Obvious --- craftsmen have always done this (2)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054701)

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.

Re:Obvious --- craftsmen have always done this (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055169)

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!

Looks like a legit patent. (4, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (3, Insightful)

Joehonkie (665142) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054637)

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:Looks like a legit patent. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054835)

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 non-obvious advance in stereolithographic techniques.

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (5, Informative)

PurpleCarrot (892888) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054913)

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.

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055349)

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.

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055549)

Nice job ripping off an AC's comment, asshole.

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054709)

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

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (3, Informative)

Grond (15515) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055147)

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.

Re:Looks like a legit patent. (1)

guttentag (313541) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056041)

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.

Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (4, Interesting)

Danathar (267989) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054549)

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]

Re:Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (1)

kiehlster (844523) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054773)

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.

Re:Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (3, Interesting)

stiggle (649614) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055075)

Their claim is that Kickstarter knowing sold infringing the products to the project backers, and that as a seller they are liable.
They don't see Kickstarter as an innocent middleman, they see them as an active reseller.

Re:Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055629)

Next time someone gets sued for a copyright violation online, make sure the person suing goes after your ISP and every carrier in between! In fact, why not go after the computer manufacturer themselves too? And why not the silicon manufacturer? Intel/AMD must have fat pockets.

Re:Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055737)

So, Kickstarter has to individually look at every single project that people put up there, do a a patent and copyright search on everything, then act as the final arbiter of if something is or is not infringing? That puts the entire burden of IP enforcement that not even the big guys can do right onto that company.

The car example: Someone puts some pirated CDs in their Kia, then Kia gets sued for contributery infringement because their vehicle didn't actively detect infringing content and keep the door locks from opening?

Realistically, just have a f-ing "report" button and be done with it. If something infringes, click the button, type in what the issue is, and the project gets taken down. Even the filesharing sites that have a rep for being places for piracy keep up and operable by offering this.

Re:Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (3, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054783)

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.

Re:Litigate Kickstarter out of existence (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055063)

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.

abolish patents and copyright! (1)

udachny (2454394) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054603)

Is anybody still thinking that patents and copyrights promote innovation? How peculiar!

Bad Patent (2)

Xeth (614132) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054669)

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.

Re:Bad Patent (1)

udachny (2454394) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054853)

No need for any protections for anybody. People do research and invent stuff on their own as long as the economy's sound. What really need to be protected is the economy against the politicians. IBM, Intel, Apple, etc. research and innovate and won't stop without patent protection. Individuals rarely invent without companies but if they do they can make much more profit by selling to producing companies though some try and bring a product to market, which is again more rare. If a large firm wants to steal it will steal even with patent law and most likely will get away with it. The point is not to cover all corner cases, the point is to have a good enough system and this is not it.will

Re:Bad Patent (1)

Xeth (614132) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055087)

It's possible you're right. Inuitively, one would think that removing a possible incentive for spending a lot of money in R&D would reduce money spent there (which, in general, probably reduces results). There are things in this world that it takes a lot of money to find out. Generally, that means a profit motive (which might not exist if you can't necessarily capitalize on your own discoveries), or government funding (which makes sense for things like medical research, but not necessarily for things that are less essential, like consumer luxuries). I really don't think that if you remove that motivation, the amount of results would be the same. But if you happen to have any hard evidence (both of us are making claims derived from reasoning and extrapolation), I'd be interested to see it.

Re:Bad Patent (1)

PurpleCarrot (892888) | about a year and a half ago | (#42054947)

People seem to be commenting without having actually read the '520 patent. The claim is not to make support struts thinner, though that is a natural following benefit of the claimed technique.

What is actually claimed is a method of getting higher resolution layers out of a stereolithographic material than would normally be attained using the materials native cure depth. The method by which the higher resolution cross-sectioning could be achieved is what this patent claims.

Re:Bad Patent (1)

Xeth (614132) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055305)

Hm, serves me right for assuming the patent linked in the summary was the one the lawsuit was actually about. It appears that the one linked to has no actual relation, based on looking at the demand letter.

Re:Bad Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42054967)

The problem is that what is a flash of insight to the likes of you and I are months of research by some dumbases that lack proper mechanical skills.
Same as in software were one has people do some tasks over and over instead of just scripting them.

*sigh*

Re:Bad Patent (1)

canadiannomad (1745008) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055443)

This is especially true in software.
One person can take months doing something that another person thinks is intuitively obvious.
Then, since no one is going around reading every patent, you could easily reproduce a method that someone patented. Thus punishing the good developer who could "just do it," as well as punishing the company for not finding a way to read every software patent and their own code to avoid infringement.
Somehow this helps creativity and innovation?

Re:Bad Patent (1)

andydread (758754) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055237)

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 that invention for a limited time. The purpose of patents therefor is not to guarantee profits for research but to encourage inventors to publish the details of that invention so as to promote the progress of science and useful art.

Re:Bad Patent (1)

Xeth (614132) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055367)

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.

Re:Bad Patent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055449)

It's beyond me how anyone involved in tech can believe that the step from "flash of insight" to "working model" and "granted patent" is somehow trivial. It displays a staggering level of ignorance, not to mention hubris, and indicates a severe lack of practical experience in any artform.

It also amazes me how people can comment on stuff without reading it first, but hey, I must be new here.

What's next? Apple suing Wal-Mart for Android? (2)

The-Forge (84105) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055135)

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 the judge should see that as a safe harbor establishment.

Re:What's next? Apple suing Wal-Mart for Android? (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056015)

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 violation of my patent by giving them a market. Both of you, knock it off and pay me my share."

The practical upshot is often that a retailer will pull a dubious product off the shelf in response to the initial legal sabre-rattling. That puts pressure on the manufacturer to settle the issue one way or the other.

yeah.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055155)

This may be a legit patent but I feel like it's a predatory move. 3DSystems do sell Makerbot as the 3DTouch, Prusa as the Botmill/Cube3D and Huxley as the RapMan. Suing some guys for doing better R&D work than them shows their hand as nothing but money whores. They aren't interested in building better tools at all. Form1, you have my support.

http://www.bitsfrombytes.com/usd/catalog/3dtouch [3DTouch: $4300USD vs Makerbot Replicator: $2000]
http://www.bitsfrombytes.com/usd/catalog/rapman-32-3d-printer-kit [RapMan: $2000 vs Huxley: obsolete]
http://cubify.com/cube/store.aspx [Cube3D: $1300 vs Prusa: ~$800]

Did I say money whores? Ok just getting that in there again because they are money whores.

Damages yet? (1)

raidfibre (1181749) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055249)

Preface with typical IANAL and whatnot. But with Formlabs not actually shipping anything yet, the best they can do is a cease and desist, right? That could screw them, but as others have mentioned they can seemingly get around the unexpired patents. Litigation costs are another issue of course. It could easily kill the kickstarter-sourced funding.

3D printing vs stereo lithography (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | about a year and a half ago | (#42055391)

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 machine. Lithography != Extrusion/deposition.

3D systems = 3d printing microsoft (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Lawyers again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42055845)

This is why we can't have nice things.

Submitter can't read? Wrong patent! (1)

Erich (151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056285)

The complaint clearly states they are filing suit based on the 520 [google.com] patent.

Re:Submitter can't read? Wrong patent! (1)

Erich (151) | about a year and a half ago | (#42056349)

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.
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