As reported recently, Formlabs is in the midst of a legal dispute with rival SLA 3D printer manufacturer DWS. The initial alleged IP infringement claims, relating to the Formlabs Form 2 3D printer, were made by DWS in three courts across Europe. Since the claims were made at the start of 2017, Formlabs has always fiercely denied the allegations, and has reinforced its perspective through a recent filing with the Virginia Eastern District Court in the U.S.
Now Max Lobovsky, co-founder and CEO of the Boston-based company, has released strong comments on the matter. “Formlabs is committed to rigorously defending our position that we do not infringe any patent claims in this case against DWS,” Lobovsky says, adding,
“Our competitors are often threatened by the speed to market, innovation and incredible engineering that goes into all Formlabs products. But no one wins when a company tries to hold back progress in the market with patents claiming technology that has been well known in the industry for years.”
Counter claimant DWS has also been contacted for comment, but at the time of writing no reply has been received.
“We fully intend to fight back”
As competition rises within the growing 3D printing industry, IP protection is becoming all the more fierce. A number of legal battles over the original owner of many additive technologies have come in to the fray, often resulting in licensing agreements, or civil settlements out of court.
Previously, Formlabs’ SLA technology was accused of infringing on the proprietary IP of EnvisionTEC 3D printers. But, continuing his statement, Lobovsky adds, “Most recently the United States Patent Office confirmed that the patent claims previously asserted by EnvisionTEC have been found to be invalid.”
In addition, he states, “Today, Formlabs does not pay any license fees based on litigation outcome to any entity,” and “We fully intend to fight back against any further assertions against us.”
Formlabs v. DWS
Formlabs was founded in 2011 by Lobovsky, David Cranor, and Natan Linder, fellow graduates of the MIT Media Lab.
On the launch of its first SLA 3D printer, the Form 1, Formlabs was known for breaking Kickstarter’s crowdfunding record, raising $2.95 million throughout the life of the campaign from 2,068 backers. The first batch of Form 1 3D printers were shipped by the company in May 2013, and the following year it received an upgrade to the Form 1+.
The subject of DWS’ assertions is the Form 2 3D printer, which was released by the company on September 22, 2015. DWS, by comparison, reports that it has filed more than 250 patents relating to its technology since it was founded in 2007.
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Featured image shows Max Lobovsky, co-founder and CEO of Formlabs. Photo by Asma Khalid/WBUR