Another round of artillery fire, in what seems to be an ongoing feud in the rapid prototyping industry was lobbed this week when RP vendor 3DSystems was granted a preliminary injunction
in Germany against rival RP vendor EnvisionTEC. It was your basic “shut your mouth” injunction.
To work from the present and going backwards (the story has length but is worth it), this week 3D Systems obtained the injunction to prevent EnvisionTEC from further publishing statements it made in a November 28, 2007 press release, which stated 3Dsystems’ “V-flash unit system is potentially infringing on its German issued patents.”
3DSystems’ December 18 2007 press release about the injunction states,
“The preliminary injunction prohibits EnvisionTEC from the further publication of those statements in Germany and stated that EnvisionTEC GmbH may be subject to a fine of up to €250,000 or that its legal representatives are subject to arrest and imprisonment for up to six months for each violation of the court’s prohibition order.” (editor comment: ouch)
But this is a huge step forward from the war of words in the weeks before: 3DSystems’ December 4th announcement initially responding to the claims made by EnvisionTEC has the following quote:
“As a company, we are keenly aware of the importance of intellectual property, and we make every effort not only to protect our own intellectual property but also to respect the valid intellectual property rights of others,” said Abe Reichental, president and chief executive officer of 3D Systems. “In this regard, we are currently involved in litigation with EnvisionTEC in the United States charging that its Perfactory and Vanquish prototyping systems infringe a number of our United States Patents. With respect to EnvisionTEC’s recent press release, we believe that EnvisionTEC does not have sufficient technical information or a factual basis for the statements it makes in that release.”
Here’s a curious point: the offending November 28 2007 press release issued by EnvisionTEC is almost nowhere to be found on the web, anywhere, even on the company’s web site. It implies a lot about EnvisionTEC’s press release distribution ability and I even started to think that they may have simply sent it to their sibling rivals at 3DSystems for some fun and giggles near Christmas. But no, thank goodness for Ralph Grabowski, who kindly dug up the text from the cache archives of Google. It reads as follows:
BREAKING NEWS – EnvisionTEC Gmbh Claim Patent Infringement
November 28th, 2007 – EnvisionTEC Gmbh has officially notified the
German distributor of the V-flash system manufactured by 3D Systems
company that the V-flash unit system is potentially infringing on
its German issued patents.
“Our intellectual property is very essential to our strength in
delivering innovative solutions to our customers, and growing our
market share in the Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing market. We
intend to vigorously defend our patents when we believe that they are
being infringed upon” said Mr. Siblani, CEO of EnvisionTEC Gmbh.
EnvisionTEC Gmbh is based in Gladbeck Germany and manufactures a
complete line of rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturing systems
known as the Perfactory Standard, MINI , and Desktop. It also
manufactures the Perfactory Vanquish Flashcure System as well as its
latest offering, the Perfactory Xede.
But the squabble doesn’t end there. In a clear pattern of feudal hissing and squabbling in the RP family, 3DSystems is currently involved in litigation in the US regarding EnvisionTEC’s possible infringement of 3DSystems’ US patents. That began in 2006; 3D Systems issued a press release on March 9. Part of it reads:
“3D Systems’ complaint asserts that the defendants are infringing these U.S. patents by importing, marketing or selling prototyping systems, including their PERFACTORY and VANQUISH modeling systems, used for creating physical three-dimensional models of objects.” This legal action is still ongoing and is referred to in the Dec 4, 2007 press release by 3DSystems.
But then the story twists. In a moment of what we at 3D CAD News see as pure hypocrisy, 3DSystems asserted the following in its December 4th 2007 press release:
““It is regrettable that EnvisionTEC has chosen to issue a press release concerning its views with respect to its patents and our V-Flash™ Desktop Modeler. We prefer that legal issues be confined to the appropriate legal forum and that companies compete fairly in the marketplace,” concluded Reichental. “Unfortunately, EnvisionTEC’s public statements have left us with no alternative but to respond in order to make our distributors and customers aware of the facts and our position.”
Now then, who issued that first opening shot, publicized via press release, on March 9, 2006? It could, just perhaps, have been 3DSystems, non?
And while members of the RP family continue to lob grenades back and forth as a form of distraction from the job at hand, rich cousin Stratasys continues to experience record growth. You can see more about the financial health of Stratasys and 3Dsystems at CADCAMNet‘s lead story last week, at www.cadcamnet.com. (Free trial subscription or paid subscription required.)