Form1 Suit Update

As the FL team can’t really discuss the details, for those curious, you can see an update of the lawsuit:

What I don’t understand about all this is that there are other STL’s coming to market and only Formlabs are getting legal action against them.  Why not B9C also??  What’s the difference here??  Is it the fact that they are not using a laser and Formlabs are. . . .

I’m definitely no legal expert, but I read the legal complaint a few months back. I also read the one patent that was cited. Specifically, 3Ds was upset about a “delayed curing” method. On overhangs, it will not print the overhang until the next layer and it will cure 2 layers at the same time to improve the quality of the overhanging geometry.

Two things that aren’t clear to me at all – How did 3Ds know they were using that technique unless they had a printer or a 3D printed part? And even if they did violate the patent, why they didn’t just rewrite the software temporarily until the patent ran out and then do a simple software update to improve the print quality. I don’t think this delayed curing method is 100% absolutely necessary…

As far as we know, they had no access to the printer/software other than the video on the kickstarter page so the question of how they decided there was infringment is still open. The timing of the suit makes sense if the goal was to panic the backers to put pressure on Formlabs. Maybe scare them into a quick settlement or even cancelling the kickstarter campaign, squashing a disruptive competitor while they’re vulnerable. An obvious line of reasoning would be that their buisness model seems to involve reserving stl printing for buisness clients at price points that must be very hard to justify when compared with the form’s prosumer pricing and relative output quality.

I still haven’t seen anyone confirm wether or not the form 1 actually uses the patented method at all. Untill that question is answered there’s not much point speculating.

As for the b9, I’m not sure it would qualify as stereolithography. The STL wiki specifically talks about using a lazer to solidify the resin. The patents might not apply. At any rate, the cat’s out of the bag. The rest of the patents will expire or be worked around. Alternate tech like the B9 seems to deliver similar results, and it’ll only get better as projectors gain in resolution. Litigation won’t stem the flood of low cost high rez 3d printers that are bound to appear in the coming years.

Well, the suit certainly “scared” me out of supporting the Kickstarter campaign.  That and the fact that they wanted payment up front - had they lost the suit it would have been lost money with nothing to show for.  Once units started shipping, though, I went ahead and pre-ordered. I “may” be left stranded, but I felt the risk was worth taking with a 2 month wait as opposed to a “who knows how long but at least 4 months” wait…

The suit came about a month after the Kickstarter campaign closed, so it couldn’t have scared you, or anyone, into not backing.  It certainly would have been very effective in hampering the campaign had it been filed while the campaign was still running. [though they could have opened the door for a counter-suit in doing so, as it would have caused irreparable harm]


Kickstarter Campaign ran Sep 26 - Oct 26

3DS Suit was filed  Nov 20