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Eight Lawsuits between 3D and EOS

August 23, 2003

Filed under: additive manufacturing,legal — Terry Wohlers @ 11:36

It’s no secret that there’s bad blood between 3D Systems and German competitor EOS. What most people don’t know is that there are eight active lawsuits between the two companies. That’s right, eight of them! Patent lawsuits were filed in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.S. 3D Systems and EOS also have two contract disputes underway.

The patent litigation in the U.S. is an order of magnitude more expensive than in other countries. One of these lawsuits could be the kiss of death for either company. I’m in favor of protecting intellectual property, but why can’t these two companies seek an alternative to dropping cash into a black hole that neither can afford? If they could find a way to cooperate at some level, it would turn a lose-lose situation into a win-win for both companies.

Many years ago, an RP system manufacturer in the U.S. was faced with a probable lawsuit that would have been a major distraction and financial drain on the company. Instead, the company was able to trade rights to patents for company stock and everyone was happy in the end. More recently, I spoke with the CEO of a software company that was facing a similar situation. An advisor recommended to the CEO that they immediately take legal action for patent infringement. Instead, the CEO picked up the phone, and in 15 minutes, had worked a deal with the competitor, and everyone was satisfied. 

My advise to 3D Systems and EOS: Set aside the boxing gloves and use precious company resources in a way that benefits your customers. If you do not, you risk paying the ultimate price and everyone will lose.