Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

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amd-tec
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Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby amd-tec » Mon Nov 25, 2013 6:48 pm

So, here we are....http://investors.stratasys.com/released ... eID=809438

It must be a good printer if it scare Stratasys :D .
"3D design with intelligent printing"
http://www.amd-tec.com

pleppik
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby pleppik » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:07 pm

I just saw this, too.

I assume that Stratasys sued Afinia and not TierTime because it's hard to sue a Chinese company for patent infringement in the U.S.

I also assume that the Afinia people are smart enough that their contract requires TierTime to indemnify them against patent infringement.

Stratasys didn't list the patents in its press release, but I'm surprised that they claim one of the infringed patents was issued as recently as this year. I'm surprised because I didn't think any of the technology in this printer is less than 10-15 years old.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. My gut instinct is that this is high on the bogosity scale--but the patent system here is so messed up that it almost doesn't matter what the merits of the case are.

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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby amd-tec » Mon Nov 25, 2013 7:42 pm

I'm not sure about the difference between MEM and FDM?
Lets hope all goes fine with Afinia.
"3D design with intelligent printing"
http://www.amd-tec.com

Lann
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby Lann » Tue Nov 26, 2013 1:10 am

The way I see it, they are suing Afinia because :

1. Now they owned Makerbot and this is one of the strategy to kill competitor
2. Afinia /UP printer is reliable than Replicator 2/2x which still have have problems until now
3. MAKE magazine 3D printer testing report 2014 just declared Afinia/UP as Best in Class: Just Hit Print

Anyway, I hope both can reach out of the court settlement just what like Formlabs did with 3DSystems.

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JuliaDee
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby JuliaDee » Tue Nov 26, 2013 2:07 am

I don't think they have to "sue" the Chinese company to stop the Up from being imported to the USA. All they have to do is demonstrate that the product infringes their patent(s) and get an injunction against further importation. Customs will stop them at the borders. The "suing" part comes when they try to calculate how much they have been injured financially by the infringement.

ajohnsonlaird
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby ajohnsonlaird » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:19 am

The actual complaint is on-line at http://www.scribd.com/doc/187032198/Str ... Technology

The patents in suit are
5,653,925, Method for controlled porosity three-dimensional modeling.
5,866,058, Method for rapid prototyping of solid models.
6,004,124, Thin-wall tube liquifier.
8,349,239, Seam concealment for Three-Dimensional Models.

You can find the patents a patents.google.com. Just enter the number.

The invention is contained entirely within the claims, so don't be misled by what is in the any of the text other than the claims. The so-called, "specification" (the text prior to the claims) can be used to augment the meaning of the claims (e.g. definitions)....but if it ain't in the claims, it ain't in the invention.

Hope this helps
Andy.
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roller
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby roller » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:40 am

Hmmm not good news.

The may be just trying to bully Afinia out of business with the pressure of legal. If they have a valid case and win though, you can pretty much expect that is the end for all Up sales to everywhere with a free trade agreement to the US as these typically agree to uphold US patents in local jurisdictions. I wonder if I should be saving for a second Up Plus now ... just in case.

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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby roller » Tue Nov 26, 2013 6:59 am

Just read some ... most of that filing would also apply to just about any reprap based printer too. Are we about to see budget 3D printing set back about 10 years? :(

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josejuako
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby josejuako » Tue Nov 26, 2013 12:06 pm

It all depends on what the judges will think if they want to carrier delays or future. look at his drawings are different mechanisms but the problem is in how you look at it and come to think of who has more power, also think about what you build as the RepRap, you can not stop beating monopoly, slavery died today there is always a solution , to the issue I think the manufacture of numerical control is a revolution that must be accepted and there will be many interests but if you manufacture your , patent machines which will forbid him to do so, the solution will be how to market components example RepRap is, maybe I'm wrong but no matter. It is a comment.


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pleppik
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby pleppik » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:30 pm

Okay, here's a quick rundown of the claimed infringement:

1) One patent relates to changing the amount of material extruded in order to control the porosity of the model. Stratasys claims that the adjustable fill settings of the Up software infringe this patent. This patent was issued in 1997.

2) The next patent was issued in 1999 and relates to maintaining a controlled temperature environment around the printed model to reduce warping. Stratasys claims that the use of a heated bed violates this patent.

3) The third patent was also issued in 1999, and is about the specific design of the hot end--in particular, having a thin-walled tube encased in a heating block. Stratasys claims that the particular design of the Afinia hot end violates this patent, and also claims that Afinia reverse-engineered the Stratasys extruders.

4) The fourth patent dates from this year and covers the specific path the software generates for creating a layer of the model in order to conceal seams and increase the strength of the model. Stratasys claims that the Afinia software generates tool paths which violate this patent.

Again, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, and it is likely to take years before there's any final resolution. #1 and #4 are things which could be changed in software (and Stratasys could force Afinia to remove these features from future software versions--thus affecting the functionality of existing users). #3 can probably be designed around, since it seems particular to a specific extruder design, and other extruder designs are probably workable. #2 would be hard to work around--however, switching to a material like PLA which doesn't warp as much can eliminate the need for a heated bed.

It's also worth noting that if these patents can be applied as broadly as Stratasys claims, it would affect pretty much all the open source printers out there. A lot of people are going to be watching this case very closely.

What's not clear from the filing (which is, after all, only one side of the story) is how broad the Stratasys patents really are, and whether they actually apply to these products. For example, if the second patent only applies to a fully enclosed and temperature-controlled chamber and not a heated bed, then there's no infringement.

It's also unknown what Stratasys is actually trying to accomplish. If they are hoping to shut down other vendors of hobbyist-grade 3D printers then there may be no resolution short of a trial. If that's the goal then other vendors will likely design around the patents to develop non-infringing products, and three of the four patents will expire within a few years anyway. It's almost certainly possible to develop a functional 3D printer which infringes none of these patents, though it would not have all the features we have come to enjoy.

On the other hand, if Stratasys wants to impose a "Stratasys tax" on non-Makerbot printers then it will probably eventually reach a settlement with Afinia involving some per-printer royalty.

Personally, my main disappointment is that Stratasys chose to pursue this route before using its intellectual property to improve the Makerbot products. I had hoped that the Makerbot acquisition would mean that Makerbot would adopt some of the commercial-grade software and techniques to build a better hobbyist product.

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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby chippwalters » Tue Nov 26, 2013 5:45 pm

Interestingly, they did not sue 3DSystems who also "violates" some of those same patents. It's clear if they 'get away' with suing Afinia, they will sue every small defenseless startup because they know they can intimidate others out of business. Not unlike SCO tried to do years ago w/regard to UNIX/LINUX.

I hope people start to see companies like Stratasys as the legal extortionists and bloodsuckers that they are. Hopefully, the MAKER community will see Makerbot signed with the wrong team; and punish them accordingly. I know as long as this suit is viable, I would never purchase a Makerbot.

pleppik
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby pleppik » Tue Nov 26, 2013 7:09 pm

chippwalters wrote:Interestingly, they did not sue 3DSystems who also "violates" some of those same patents. It's clear if they 'get away' with suing Afinia, they will sue every small defenseless startup because they know they can intimidate others out of business. Not unlike SCO tried to do years ago w/regard to UNIX/LINUX.


It's entirely possible, even likely, that 3DS and Stratasys have signed some sort of licensing agreement. 3DS has some patents of its own, and in a situation like that it's fairly common to come to some sort of cross-licensing deal. If that happened there'd be no need to publicize it, and nobody except the two companies would know.

ajohnsonlaird
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby ajohnsonlaird » Wed Nov 27, 2013 6:06 am

It is also possible that Afinia will be able to find some "prior art" (that is some other patented invention, article, or publication) that describes the claimed inventions in the patents in suit.

If this occurs, the Court will rule that these patents are invalid. If you know (and can prove) that these inventions were practiced prior to the filing date of the patents (the filing dates are shown on the patents and are not the same as the date when the patent issued), then you should contact Afinia's legal department, and make them aware of the documentary evidence. It has to be documentary proof. Hearsay doesn't cut it.

It is also possible to demonstrate that a person of "ordinary skill in the art at the time of the invention" would find these claimed inventions obvious. (A patent, to be valid, must be non-obvious.) That's a harder thing to prove and really only something that Afinia's lawyers and experts can demonstrate -- but any publications that come *close* to these inventions narrow the gap in terms of what was known at the time and it being obvious at the time. So again, if you know of any such publications, tell Afinia.

Even if the lack of prior art or obviousness fails to invalidate the patents, it will still be up to a jury (unless both parties elect to have just a Judge hear the case) to determine how much Afinia should pay in damages. A finding of infringement may not mean the end of the world.

Andy.
Note: I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV.
But I have testified as an expert in software-related patent cases for "quite some time." ;)
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JuliaDee
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby JuliaDee » Wed Nov 27, 2013 10:37 am

ajohnsonlaird wrote:It is also possible that Afinia will be able to find some "prior art" (that is some other patented invention, article, or publication) that describes the claimed inventions in the patents in suit.

If this occurs, the Court will rule that these patents are invalid.


Invalidating one patent can be a very expensive process, let alone several. Stratasys can afford it; I doubt Afinia can without help from Delta Micro. Afinia was obviously singled out here as the target because of Delta Micro's Tiertime line which is to some extent a knockoff Stratasys' industrial product line. And of course the fact that the Afinia has received better reviews than Stratasys' newly-acquired Makerbot line...

Certainly a sobering and chilling development.

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Lawrence
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby Lawrence » Wed Nov 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Hi all
Re Julia's post.
The "suing" part comes when they try to calculate how much they have been injured financially by the infringement.

I wonder how many of us Uppers would have purchased a 3D printer being offered by Stratasys had the Up!Plus had not been on the market.
Considering that the Mojo, at $10,000 plus is the cheapest offering by Stratasys, I doubt that there would have been many if any of us jumping to buy any of their 3D printers.
If that is the case, and I suspect it is, then the damage to their revenue is ZERO.
In fact, to the contrary, it is cheaper offerings like the Up! and other prosumer and consumer printers that have expanded interest and growth in the 3D printer market world wide.
I for one would never have purchased a $10,000 plus 3D printer as my first printer, but now that I have well and truly got the 3D printer bug (or perhaps have inhaled too much ABS fumes) have been taking a closer look at expanding my printer stable with a professional level addition.
So, Stratasys may have actually received more sales because of the "cheapies"
But, with their competition-crippling actions they won't get my dollars. A Tiertime professional level printer looks pretty good to me.
Once again, just my own opinion
Regards
Lawrence


roller
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby roller » Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:46 pm

Interesting after Bre was boasting about now having access to the Stratasys patent pool.

http://gigaom.com/2013/11/18/makerbot-ceo-bre-pettis-stratasys-patented-tech-will-appear-in-its-3d-printers-within-a-few-years/

EM-creations
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby EM-creations » Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:43 pm

Anyone else noticed the Tiertime website is down? :?

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Lawrence
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby Lawrence » Mon Dec 02, 2013 11:09 pm

Hi
must have been temporary down time.
Tiertime link works for me : http://www.tiertime.com/en/product.asp?id=1
My heart longs for a D255 but my wallet may eventually stretch to a S200.
Regards
Lawrence

roller
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Re: Stratasys vs. Afinia patent issue

Postby roller » Tue Dec 03, 2013 1:25 am

EM-creations wrote:Anyone else noticed the Tiertime website is down? :?


Not that uncommon. Maybe the great firewall of China getting in the way.


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