Stratasys and Afinia have been battling in the courts for years in a series of confrontations over various patents and claims, and now Stratasys says they’re happy with an announcement by the US Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent & Trademark Office which denied a request from 3D printer manufacturer Afinia for what’s called an “inter partes review”of three FDM technology patents.
The patents relate to to liquefier structure, temperature control, and tool paths for constructing part perimeters in the 3D printing process.
Inter partes review is a trial proceeding conducted at the PTAB which considers the patentability of one or more claims in a patent. For “first-inventor-to-file patents,” the inter partes review process begins with a third party filing a petition nine months after the grant of a patent or issuance of a reissue patent, or if a post grant review is instituted.
The patent owner then files a preliminary response to the petition, and inter partes review, and the procedure for conducting inter partes review took effect during September of 2012, and it applies to any patent issued before September 16, 2012.
In denying Afinia’s requests, the PTAB said Afinia “has not demonstrated a reasonable likelihood of prevailing” in regard to their challenged claims against the Stratasys patents.
As it stands now, the PTAB say they only deny about one of every four inter partes review requests.
“We are very pleased with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board’s decision. These dismissals are evidence of the strength of our patent portfolio,” says Soonhee Jang, Vice President and Chief IP Counsel for Stratasys.
The same three patents are also set forth by Stratasys in a case called Stratasys, Inc. v. Microboards Technology, LLC dba Afinia. That case is currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Stratasys says they’re continuing to pursue those claims in court, and they involve what the company says is an infringement by Afinia on three Stratasys patents.
The co-founder and chief innovation officer of Stratasys, Scott Crump, is the inventor of Fused Deposition Modeling technology.
Stratasys has patented FDM and PolyJet 3D Printing technologies, and those processes are used to produce prototypes and manufactured goods directly from 3D files or other 3D content.
Stratasys subsidiaries include MakerBot and Solidscape, and they also offer a digital parts manufacturing service, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.
Stratasys currently holds more than 800 granted or pending patents related to additive manufacturing methods and processes.
What impact do you think this decision from the Patent Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent & Trademark Office will have on the 3D printing business in general? Let us know in the Stratasys vs. Afinia forum thread on 3DPB.com.