Formlabs embroiled in legal dispute with DWS over alleged patent infringement

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Things are heating up in the additive manufacturing industry on the legal front again… Italian SLA 3D printing company DWS S.r.l. has filed a counterclaim that alleges infringement of its U.S. patent and damages against Formlabs Inc.

The counterclaim follows on a lawsuit started by Formlabs which sought a declaratory judgement of non-infringement of the DWS patent for its FORM 2 3D printing system. The patent in question, No. 8,945,456, covers the heating system of DWS’ stereolithography 3D printers.

Formlabs DWS infringement
The FORM 2 3D printer

To contextualize a bit, DWS and Formlabs have been embroiled in litigation issues for some time now. Since 2017, a number of patent infringement allegations have been pending between the two 3D printing companies in Italy, Germany and Turkey. In August 2018, the German Court of Mannheim issued a judgement declaring that the FORM 2 3D printer—Formlabs’ most successful product—infringes on the German portion of the DWS European patent for the SLA 3D printer’s heating system.

In response to Formlabs’ lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia seeking a declaratory judgement of non-infringement from DWS for its U.S. patent, DWS filed a counterclaim on November 13, 2018 that alleges infringement and damages. The counterclaim’s damages refer to the manufacture, use and sale of the FORM 2 3D printer.

Notably, the counterclaim also alleges that Formlabs’ infringement on the heating patent was and is willful. The company writes: “DWS seeks damages and an injunction as remedies for the infringement by the FORM 2 printer launched by Formlabs Inc. in September 2015. DWS has always invested considerable efforts in research and protection of its technical solutions in the 3D printing industry and intends to vigorously react against the potential infringements of its patents.”

Formlabs weighs in

Formlabs, for its part, maintains that no patent infringement occurred. In the suit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Formlabs states:

“A current and actual controversy exists between the parties because DWS has demonstrated an intent to enforce the ’456 patent against Formlabs based on activities related to the Form 2. As described below, DWS has engaged, and continues to engage, in a pattern of filing lawsuits against Formlabs and/or its subsidiaries or resellers and asserting that the Form 2 infringes the claims of certain foreign patents related to the ’456 patent, including claims of the foreign patents that are virtually identical to the claims of the ’456 patent. Formlabs denies that the Form 2, or Formlabs’ associated activities, infringe any claim of the ’456 patent or its related foreign counterparts.”

Max Lobovsky, Co-Founder and CEO of Formlabs, also weighed on DWS’s decision to file a counterclaim:
“Formlabs is committed to rigorously defending our position that we do not infringe any patent claims in this case against DWS. 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.

Today, Formlabs does not pay any license fees based on litigation outcome to any entity. Most recently the United States Patent Office confirmed that the patent claims previously asserted by EnvisionTEC have been found to be invalid. We fully intend to fight back against any further assertions against us.”

With both sides standing firm with their assertions, we’ll have to wait for the next response to see how the SLA feud will develop.    

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