Following a legal battle over accusations of patent infringement and leaked trade secrets, Desktop Metal and Markforged have come to an agreement that resolves “all outstanding litigation” between the two companies. The agreement stipulates that both 3D printer manufacturers recognize that there was no misappropriation of trade secrets or confidential information on either end. The understanding marks an end to the legal case which has been ongoing since March 2018.
Nearly everyone in the 3D printing industry will be familiar with the high profile patent infringement case brought against Markforged by Desktop Metal for its metal 3D printing technology. But in case your recollection of the case is a bit blurry, here’s a little recap of the key events over the past several months.
Allegations are made
On March 20, 2018, Desktop Metal made public a lawsuit it had filed against 3D printer manufacturer Markforged for its low cost Metal X machine. More specifically, Desktop Metal was suing Markforged for patent infringement, claiming that it had used two of its patented technologies (from its own desktop metal 3D printers): its seminal separable supports and its interface layer technique.
Notably, Desktop Metal also alleged that a former employee had shared trade secrets with his brother who was the Director of Technology and Creative at Markforged. Ric Fulop, Founder and CEO of Desktop Metal, said at the time:
“Metal 3D printing is an exciting, quickly growing and rapidly evolving industry, and as a pioneer in the space, Desktop Metal welcomes healthy and vibrant competition. When that competition infringes on our technology, however, we have a duty to respond. We believe Markforged products clearly utilize technology patented by Desktop Metal and we will do what is necessary to protect our IP and our company.”
The serious allegations were not taken lightly by Markforged, which responded in turn, categorically denying them. As Greg Mark, Founder and CEO of Markorged, stated: “On Monday, a competitor filed a lawsuit against us, including various far-fetched allegations. Markforged categorically denies these allegations and we will be formally responding shortly in our own court filing.”
Court reaches a decision
At the end of July 2018, a federal jury released its findings that it had found Markforged not guilty of infringing on two of Desktop Metal’s patents. The news of this decision was understandably a great relief to Markforged, which could continue to market and sell its Metal X 3D printer without punitive charges.
“Markforged printers have changed the way businesses produce strong parts while dramatically impacting the delivery times, cost, and supply chain logistics,” commented Mark in July. “We feel gratified that the jury found we do not infringe, and confirmed that the Metal X, our latest extension of the Markforged printing platform, is based on our own proprietary Markforged technology.”
Trade secret litigation
Despite the July court ruling, it was unclear whether the companies themselves had come to an amicable understanding. Today, though they are still competitors, they seem to have done so with the announcement of an agreement that establishes that no individuals named in the litigation misappropriated trade secret information. Other terms of the agreement between Desktop Metal and Markforged have not been disclosed and will reportedly remain confidential.