Generally speaking, the additive manufacturing industry is characterized by friendly competition, with many companies continually innovating not only to drive their own products but to bolster and accelerate the AM industry at large. That being said, butting heads is inevitable at times, especially when it comes to issues of intellectual property.
3D printer manufacturers Markforged and Desktop Metal, for instance, famously battled it out through a multi-year lawsuit in which Desktop Metal alleged Markforged has infringed upon its proprietary metal 3D printing technology. Though the companies came to an amicable agreement out of the courts (after a jury found Markforged not guilty) last October, it seems that the companies’ legal troubles are not quite over.
This time, Markforged has filed a lawsuit against Desktop Metal, in which it alleges a breach of contract, violations of the Lanham Act and unfair and deceptive acts and practices.
More specifically, Markforged claims that the desktop metal 3D printing company was in breach of its settlement contract when it sent certain marketing materials, or “Battle cards,” to over 100 of its resellers. These leaflets reportedly consisted of direct comparisons between the Studio System and the Metal X and Markforged maintains the information in the materials pertaining to its products were false.
The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the US District Court in Boston, alleges that Desktop Metal employed “dirty tricks” against Markforged and acted like “schoolyard bullies” in the dissemination of false information about Markforged’s metal 3D printer and associated products.
In an official statement, Markforged said: “Metal 3D printing is on pace to change manufacturing as we know it, and Markforged is leading the charge. We believe healthy competition is good for the industry, innovation, and—most importantly—customers. Unfortunately, as alleged in our complaint, Desktop Metal has chosen to compete by spreading false information. Markforged is taking this necessary step to ensure customers are making their buying decisions on facts, not lies.”
Markforged’s legal team purportedly reached out to Desktop Metal requesting $100,000 in damages for each reseller and potential customer that consulted the leaflet. Failing this approach, the case has since been taken to the next level with the filing of a lawsuit.
Desktop Metal, for its part, says it will fight the lawsuit accordingly, maintaining its innocence. It says: “We are aware of the filing by MarkForged and believe the claims are without merit. We will be addressing the allegations in the appropriate forum.”