Lady Justice, ironically 3D-printed on a Cubify by Trompevenio
Well folks, it was just a matter of time: Kickstarter is being sued.
The plaintiff isn't a disgruntled pledger who didn't get what they paid for, but none other than 3D Systems, the company behind the Cubify 3D printer.
The first target in 3D Systems' crosshairs is Formlabs, the company behind the FORM 1 3D printer, which created quite the Kickstarter stir by garnering nearly $3 million in pledges. Says the press release of the lawsuit,
"3D Systems invented and pioneered the 3D printing technology of stereolithography and has many active patents covering various aspects of the stereolithography process," said Andrew Johnson, General Counsel of 3D Systems. "Although Formlabs has publicly stated that certain patents have expired, 3D Systems believes the Form 1 3D printer infringes at least one of our patents, and we intend to enforce our patent rights."
Okay, so why the hell are they suing Kickstarter? The full 12-page legalese-filled text of their complaint (which Wired has posted here) deems Kickstarter a "funds raiser and selling agent of Formlabs," thus putting them in the crosshairs. Here's a relevant excerpt from the complaint:
Upon information and belief, Kickstarter knowingly or with willful blindness induced and continues to induce infringement and possessed specific intent to encourage another's infringement by, or was willfully blind as to the '520 Patent and with respect to, its activities and Formlabs' activities described above.
...The foregoing acts of patent infringement by Kickstarter has caused, and unless enjoined by this Court, will continue to cause, immediate and irreparable injury and damage to 3D Systems, and 3D Systems has no adequate remedy at law.
It's going to take a good lawyer (and maybe a psychic) to tell us what this may mean for Kickstarter, but the prognosis is probably not good.