It’ll make next week’s CES a little weird… Late last year Stratasys shocked the 3D printing community by filing a lawsuit against Afinia, the makers of the H-series FFF 3D printers, the company has released its response .
Stratasys’ original press statement stated that they are seeking “injunctive relief and damages for infringement of four of its 3D printing patents” and claiming that “the sale, promotion and use of its Series H printers for Afinia Use infringes patents directed to partial porosity, liquefaction, temperature control and equipment paths for manufacturing part perimeters.”
In response, Afinia will defend its technology, the company’s attorney, Cantor Colburn’s attorney William J. Cass, said, “Afinia has included an affirmative defense of patent abuse, and given the potential claim of antitrust (by patent). Will investigate. Significant difference between claimed claims and Afinia H series.”
The official legal document filed by Afinia can be found on their site here and it goes into the various ways in which they plan to defend themselves against Stratasys in all legal mumbo jumbo, sometimes feeling like a person living with OCD In colonial New England, with phrases such as, “the plaintiff is not entitled to any equitable relief or recovery because his hands are unclean.” A few things I was able to get from the docs:
Also unlike the case above, this will have a huge impact on the 3D printing community, which thrives on the ability to innovate FFF technology (as opposed to 3D Systems and Formlabs’ stereolithography).
Such a lawsuit, if won by Stratasys, may do the company a little good by undercutting the competition, but the whole lawsuit certainly doesn’t look good on their corporate image. It kind of struck me as if they let all the small companies and manufacturers do the work of mainstreaming the popularity of 3D printing through the development of awesome desktop 3D printing technology.
Then, they acquired the most popular desktop maker and now, are planning to take out the rest. I think Shane’s theory may be and mine may not, actually. Anyway, in my opinion, this kind of behavior does not reflect well on the management of the company. But, as 3D printing goes mainstream, most people will not know the story and care about how Stratasys dominated the consumer 3DP market.
That is, if they come out on top. The battle hasn’t started yet and Stratasys’ victory is by no means a foregone conclusion.
According to the documents, the defense team has enough confidence to warrant a jury trial. Therefore, we can see David’s victory over Goliath and, therefore, a victory for all of us little ones. All manufacturers and small companies can go back to making FFF 3D printers, without worrying about standing on Goliath’s shoulders.