3D Printing

HP Sued by Memjet for Patent Infringement in MJF 3D Printing Tech

3D printing is really starting to come of age. Not just in terms of technological advancement, but the business as a whole is starting to reflect that of the larger economic system.  And any mature technology has to have its fair share of drama, including corporate lawsuits.  While 3D Systems and Stratasys are embroiled in their own suits, the largest and newest 3D printing player, HP, is being taken to court by Memjet, the San Diego-based company behind a unique 2D color printing technology.

In a court document filed yesterday, Memjet asserts that Hewlett-Packard has infringed on eight of their patents related to the company’s page-wide “waterfall” printing technique. Memjet believes that HP’s own PageWide, Pro X, T-Series, and PageWide XL printers rely on Memjet’s patented technology.  HP’s same PageWide Technology, Memjet says, is going to be used in the company’s MultiJet Fusion printers, to be made available to 3D printing services next year.  As a result, Memjet is seeking to prevent HP from further implementation of the tech and to recover damages for its existing usage. The patents in question are as follows:

memjet pagewide waterfall printingU.S. Patent No. 6,575,549, titled “Ink Jet Fault Tolerance Using
Adjacent Nozzles”
– U.S. Patent No. 6,880,914, titled “Inkjet Pagewidth Printer For High
Volume Pagewidth Printing”
– U.S. Patent No. 7,156,492, titled “Modular Printhead Assembly With A
Carrier Of A Metal Alloy”
– U.S. Patent No. 7,325,986, titled “Printhead Assembly with Stacked Ink
Distribution Sheets”
– U.S. Patent No. 8,662,636, titled “Inkjet Printhead Having Rows Of
Printhead Segments”
– U.S. Patent No. 8,678,550, titled “Printhead Assembly With Laminated
Ink Distribution Stack”
– U.S. Patent No. 8,696,096, titled “Laminated Ink Supply Structure
Mounted In Ink Distribution Arrangement Of An Inkjet Printer”
– U.S. Patent No. 9,056,475, titled “Inkjet Printer With Web Feed
Maintenance Assembly”

Though I’m not entirely familiar with the 2D printing processes implemented by both companies, it appears as though they have had a history of rivalry regarding page-wide printing, a very fast, full-color inkjet printing process.  Early last year, when everyone was still speculating as to the nature of HP’s entrance into the 3D printing space, Fabbaloo hypothesized that it could rely on this same technology.  If this lawsuit has a basis in reality, then Fabbaloo seems to have hit the nail on the head.  With HP’s MJF 3D printing drawing a lot of interest – and likely some money, too – this lawsuit could be a thorn in the side of the printing giant. Just how big of a thorn remains to be seen.