When Formlabs raised $2,945,885 on Kickstarter for its high resolution 3-D printer in October 2012, neither company was expecting a lawsuit. Still, 3D Systems, one of the biggest names in 3-D printing,sued both companies, accusing them of patent infringement. Debate swept the maker community — a 3-D printed Kickstarter project boycotted 3D Systems, and Formlabs ended up shipping their printers, undaunted by the legal threat.
Strong opinions are plentiful, but the novelty of the case leaves many confused. Wired Design asked an attorney, patent agent, and venture capitalist to share their thoughts on the case and what it might mean for the maker movement.
“This is an interesting lawsuit, but a bit on the edge,” says Rick Frenkel, a partner at Latham & Watkins who has a background in IP strategy and patent litigation. ”Kickstarter is going to have a strong defense.”