E3D-Online Adjusts IP Policy For Revo

By on February 14th, 2022 in Corporate, news

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New Revo series 3D printer components [Source: E3D-Online]

E3D-Online clarified their position on use of their Revo hot end design.

You might recall the company’s blockbuster announcement of the Revo series, which features an incredibly easy way to swap nozzles, as well as a number of other performance improvements.

E3D-Online primarily makes 3D printer components, thus it’s their expectation that other 3D printer manufacturers will adopt the Revo system for their equipment.

But how is this possible? Would the Revo design have to be licensed from E3D-Online first?

It turns out no, according to a statement from Clare Difazio, the company’s Head of Marketing & Product Strategy.

Difazio explained that it is critical that E3D-Online hold the intellectual property of their unique component designs, but that they wish to allow others to make use of it.

There’s two parts to their IP approach. First, regarding casual use of their Revo design, Difazio said:

“E3D’s patent pledge is simple: a legally binding promise to never enforce our patents against anything done privately and non-commercially, or against academics conducting experiments.”

This should be suitable for those experimenting with the Revo concept in their own equipment designs.

But what about larger manufacturers hoping to design equipment using the Revo standard? What if they produce an improved version that should attach to a 3D printer in the same fashion as a Revo component? Difazio had an answer for this, too, saying:

“Specifications for the Revo cold-side will be available under an open source license (GPL v3), making it easy to design and iterate on your own heatsinks and receptacles, and enhance your machines with our innovative RapidChange system.”

The GPL V3.0 is one of the most popular open source licenses. It basically says you can use the design as long as you state where it came from, and if you produce any improvements you must publicly open source them under the same license. More info here.

So it appears that E3D-Online is keeping control of the “hot” side, while leaving the “cold” side as the interface to the rest of a 3D printer. This should permit machines to be designed that legally incorporate the Revo standard, this extending E3D-Online’s component ecosystem much in the same way their very popular E3D-V6 series took over many machines.

The company had previously published a lengthy explanation of their IP policy, basically saying that they had to retain some portion of the design to enable them to continue. To me, this makes sense. Were they to simply open source the whole thing it would be immediately adopted by everyone and E3D-Online would soon go out of business.

They cite three main reasons for this approach:

  • Some people just want to do the manufacturing and selling for profit bit, without the inventing bit. That’s kind of an unfair move, especially when you don’t even have the proper manners to do the ‘making it’ part well. Certainly not when conditions of open source licenses are disrespected, images and content we’ve put a lot of effort into are taken, and trademarks like “E3D” are used to mislead folks into buying things that aren’t made by us.
  • Some people want to do the patenting bit, without actually doing the inventing bit! Lots of companies are filing large amounts of broad patents on things that are not really in the spirit of “protecting things you really put effort into inventing”.
  • The UK government is giving extremely beneficial tax breaks to patented products. It would be silly not to make use of these tax breaks when we’re doing so much R&D. This means that patenting inventions lets us throw more resources at step 4; making more cool stuff, faster.

This is brilliantly illustrated in this comparison diagram:

Sustainable vs. unsustainable open source development [Source: E3D-Online]

Going forward, this strategy should be successful. So long as they continue making great components, they should be able to make some profit from them. And with that profit they can continue to develop even better products. That’s where the Revo came from, and also where future, yet-to-be-developed products will come from.

Via E3D-Online and LinkedIn

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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