Essentium CEO: Jabil Lawsuit “Meritless”, Sending A “Chilling Message”

By on August 19th, 2019 in Corporate

Tags: , , ,

 Essentium Co-Founders with the HSE 180•S: CEO Blake Teipel (left) and CPO Erik Gjøvik (right, named in the lawsuit from Jabil) [Image: Fabbaloo]
Essentium Co-Founders with the HSE 180•S: CEO Blake Teipel (left) and CPO Erik Gjøvik (right, named in the lawsuit from Jabil) [Image: Fabbaloo]

Essentium is doubling down on its public stance in the face of Jabil’s lawsuit.

The Claim

The suit, filed at the end of June, came as quite a shock to the industry.

Jabil asserts, in a strongly-worded 52-allegation suit with 10 formal claims, that Essentium stole trade secrets related to Jabil’s original TenX 3D printing technology — and rebranded and is selling it as Essentium’s HSE (High Speed Extrusion) platform.

The claims trace the workings of several individuals who had been employed, both full-time and on a contract basis, on the TenX project. These individuals then found work with Essentium, developing and contributing to the development of the HSE platform. Jabil is suing four individuals and the corporate Essentium entities.

The Counterclaim

Essentium disputes any wrongdoing.

Shortly after the media caught wind of the lawsuit, the company made known its stance.

In a short public statement, Essentium’s Chairman of the Board, Steve Birdwell, acknowledged the attention and noted that Jabil’s filed lawsuit is “entirely without merit, and we are responding to it aggressively.”

Pending Legislation

The case is ongoing, so it seemed there wouldn’t be much more to report until something tangible happened.

But part of Essentium’s “aggressive” response is not keeping quiet in the duration, and we’ve recently heard from the company with a brief update.

While of course current happenings and strategies aren’t being divulged and they can’t say too much, Essentium Co-Founder and CEO Blake Teipel, Ph.D. recently shared a statement with company partners and customers, and now with us.

In his statement, Teipel echoes much of Birdwell’s original sentiment, stating:

“Steve was unequivocal in our position: This action is entirely without merit, and we have been given no choice but to respond to it rigorously. Our corporate values are based around trust, service, transparency, and innovation. I reiterate here now: we have never detracted from these values.”

He continues, diving further into the company’s stance:

“I want to take this opportunity to personally assure you that Essentium will not be distracted from our vision and our strategy to transform the future of industrial-scale manufacturing. Nor will we allow Jabil to undermine a market transformation that will benefit the entire global manufacturing industry: a transformation enabled by innovation, open business models, and customer choice.”

Teipel then notes awards for hardware and applications, high-profile partnerships, and physical expansion efforts that underpin Essentium’s ongoing growth.

He says:

“Because ours is an ecosystem built on an open constellation, customers finally have their hands firmly on the steering wheel of their own futures, able to unlock their own innovations. At Essentium, we say that the future belongs to the customer, not to the OEM. We will work tirelessly to ensure that our customer’s future is not deterred by a meritless litigation effort brought by a party who is potentially effectuating the stagnation of the very ecosystem it claims to promote. That Jabil seeks to undermine the honest work of others in the additive manufacturing industry sends a chilling message to innovators everywhere, thus causing harm well beyond Essentium and its customers and partners.”

Some of these messages sound somewhat familiar in the 3D printing industry, focusing on the difference between open innovation and closed-source strategies. Essentium is doubling down on the importance of openness and customer focus in solution development.

There’s also a bit of seeming ‘underdog’ sentiment here in calling Jabil’s actions out as sending “a chilling message to innovators everywhere.” Essentium itself isn’t a small startup anymore, but it is by no means a big fish in the pond quite yet.

As the additive manufacturing industry continues to grow, individuals will continue to switch jobs. This can pose a challenge as they take skills and accumulated knowledge elsewhere, including to competitors. Jabil says the NDAs it had in place should have locked the TenX work in place, while Essentium… hasn’t directly addressed how the knowledge transfer and many overlaps between TenX and HSE — but stands strong in that no trade secrets were violated. They’re a smart team presumably working with smart legal representation, so there has to be some basis for their counterclaim.

Speaking of counterclaims, Essentium will be filing a response to the lawsuit “by end of day today,” we’re told. So perhaps some light will be shed on exactly what their arguments are.

The message concludes on a note of firm faith in Essentium and the company’s continuing work:

“Essentium’s commitment to enabling the innovation of our customers will remain undeterred. Our pace will remain similarly unwavering. Our business is strong, our operations are strong, and our pipeline is strong. We have the full support of our Board, our investors, our partners, and our customers. We thank you for this support, and for your business.”

As always, we can never promise more updates to a currently proceeding legal dispute. It’s rare that companies will comment during the course of a lawsuit. We’ll continue to update as more information becomes available.

Via Essentium

By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.