3D Printers

Markforged to file countersuit against Desktop Metal’s IP infringement allegations

Greg Mark, founder and CEO of composite and metal 3D printer provider Markforged, has issued a statement following the lawsuit filed by competitor company Desktop Metal last week.

According to the court filing, Desktop Metal alleges that Markforged has infringed upon intellectual property (IP), and may have undertaken what could be described as industrial espionage.

In an open letter posted on the Markforged blog, CEO Mark “categorically denies” Desktop Metal’s allegations as “far-fetched,” and has confirmed that Markforged will be following the suit with its own court filing.

Greg Mark, CEO and Founder of Markforged. Photo via Markforged
Greg Mark, CEO and Founder of Markforged. Photo via Markforged

Let the games begin

There are total of two Patents in Suit held by Desktop Metal that refer to proprietary metal 3D printing technology, and the method of using a sacrificial interface layer of material between a 3D printed part and support material to facilitate post-processing.

As summarized in our previous article reporting the case, Desktop Metal is requesting a preliminary injunction against Markforged to prevent “Markforged and its officers,
agents, servants, employees, representatives, successors, and assigns, and all others acting in 32 concert or participation with them from continued infringement of the ’839 patent and ’118 patent.”

The plaintiff is also requesting monetary damages from Markforged “in an amount twice Desktop Metal’s actual damages for Markforged’s use of Desktop Metal’s trade secrets,” and that the civil case be heard by a jury.

The case in summary

Desktop Metal’s patented technology is used in the company’s Studio System, which began shipping in December 2017 and the Production System, set for commercial release in 2019.

Markforged’s Metal X 3D printer, has just started shipping to commercial buyers. During a recent visit to the Develop 3D Live conference and expo, 3D Printing Industry saw the Metal X in action. In conversations during that show those familiar with the 3D printer report that demand for the Metal X is high.

With several 3D printing systems seeking to compete in this market it is not unwarranted to speculate that the current legal challenge may be part of an aggressive marketing strategy. Indeed, 3D Printing Industry first heard about the case in mid-2017.

The merits of the case are of course for the legal system to decide. Alternatively, it is possible that a licensing agreement will be worked out between the two parties. This would not be the first time similar cases have been decided in such a manner.

The point of contention between these two systems is that Desktop Metal’s has the “interface layer” between the metal part and support material, and Markforged has been showcasing the Metal X’s ceramic “Release layer” at a number of tradeshows.

Markforged's Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) process. Image via Markforged
Markforged’s Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM) process. Image via Markforged

According to Desktop Metal, Matiu Parangi, a former technician at Desktop Metal’s developing print farm, and brother of Abraham Parangi, Director of Technology & Creative at Markforged is alleged to have assisted Markforged during his employment at rival Desktop Metal.

According to the allegation, M. Parangi “downloaded documents unrelated to his work on the print farm, including documents containing Proprietary Information such as a document titled “Engineer Status and Goals -160912.”

The interaction and history of the two companies is further complicated by Ric Fulop’s (CEO of Desktop Metal) term as an early investor and board member at Markforged.

Greg Mark’s statement 

In Mark’s statement, the Markforged founder and CEO explains, “I founded Markforged in my kitchen six years ago. I dreamt of giving every engineer the ability to 3D print real, functional, mechanical parts. We invented something that had never existed before – a continuous carbon fiber 3D printer,”

“Our Metal X product is an extension of that platform.”

Further, “On Monday, a competitor filed a lawsuit against us, including various far-fetched allegations. Markforged categorically denies these allegations and we will be formally responding shortly in our own court filing.”

It concludes, “Markforged is a thriving business with a dedicated team of passionate people, and we’re going to continue to execute and deliver amazing products to our customers.”

3D Printing Industry will remain at the forefront of any further developments in this case and inform our readers of its progress and outcome.

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Featured image shows the Markforged booth at Formnext 2017. Photo by Beau Jackson