After appropriate time for attorneys to do their work, Afinia has formally responded in court documents to Stratasys’ claim of patent infringement. Readers may recall that Afinia is the target of a patent claim by Stratasys. The larger company claims Afinia has violated four of their numerous 3D printing-related patents.
In the response, Afinia (or rather the parent company, Microboards), admit to selling a Chinese-made personal 3D printer within the court’s jurisdiction in the documents.
So, what does the response say? We quote from the document's points responding to the specific violations claimed by Stratasys:
24. Denied.25. Denied.26. Denied27. Denied.28. Denied.29. Denied.30. Denied.31. Denied.32. Denied.
This pattern repeats for each of Stratasys’ specific allegations of patent violations.
Much of the response follows this pattern, at least until Afinia provides defense:
Plaintiff’s Complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted. Afinia has not engaged in any acts that would constitute infringement of any valid and enforceable patent-in-suit.
The patents-in-suit are invalid for failure to comply with the statutory provisions for patentability and validity set forth in Title 35 of the United States Code, including one or more of 35 U.S.C. §§ 101, 102, 103, 112, 115, 116 and 256.
Afinia describes why they believe that the Stratasys “inventions” were “known or used by others” and provide several alternative patents that, after a quick read by us, appear to describe technologies similar to the 3D printing process. Afinia concludes that Stratasys “did not themselves invent the subject matter sought to be patented” and therefore are not entitled to any relief (meaning damages, royalties or settlements.)
Perhaps even more interesting is the subsequent claims by Afinia that appear to show the specific evidence that aspects of the Stratasys patents existed before the patent was issued, and that “assertion of the ‘925 patent against any Afinia constitutes patent misuse”. And finally:
Assertion of the ‘925 patent against Afinia is an attempt by Plaintiff to achieve a monopoly in the markets of additive manufacturing and/or important submarkets thereto.
Ouch! And that’s just for the first of the four alleged patent violations. The remainder of the 33 page Afinia response pick at the Stratasys allegations in a very specific manner (e.g. Stratasys patent claims thin walls between 0.005-0.015 inches, but Afinia says their unit has walls approximately four times that size, etc.)
Afinia, based on its own claims, seeks a declaration of non-infringement, and demands a jury trial.
This one just got a lot hotter. Afinia believes that not only are they not guilty of infringement, but that Stratasys’ patents are invalid! What will happen if the jury agrees with Afinia?