According to a court document, Kickstarter will begin refunding backers of Creality’s latest 3D scanner project.
As we reported previously, Artec 3D launched legal action against Kickstarter and Creality alleging copyright infringement related to the software accompanying Creality’s latest tabletop 3D scanner, the CR-Lizard, which we reviewed in depth recently.
The situation seems complex, and involves departed Artec 3D staff, a Hong Kong startup, Shenzhen Jimuyida Technology Co. Ltd., selling software that seems quite similar to Artec 3D’s software, and Creality licensing that software for use with their new 3D scanner. While it appears that Shenzhen Jimuyida Technology Co. Ltd. is the root of the issue, Kickstarter and Creality were drawn into the legal action and it’s possible they may both have been unaware of the status of this software.
Regardless, Kickstarter immediately suspended the campaign while things were being sorted out. At the time of the suspension, something close to US$4M was raised from backers wishing to use the 3D scanner, representing almost 10,000 units.
While the lawsuit is still underway, it appears that one part of the action is resolved: according to a document from Kickstarter’s legal team, the backers will be refunded their money.
The document said:
“Last week, Creality asked Kickstarter to simply refund to its campaign backers all money raised from the CR-Scan Lizard campaign. Given that the Court has not ordered Kickstarter to retain the campaign funds, Kickstarter has agreed to begin issuing refunds to all campaign backers at the beginning of next week. Since issuing these refunds will essentially return the parties to the state of affairs that existed prior to the commencement of Creality’s Kickstarter campaign, Kickstarter believes that its decision moots the pending request for injunctive relief, as well as Artec’s pending claim for liability against Kickstarter.”
That’s excellent news for those contributors that might have otherwise lost their money. A message from Creality to backers suggested the refund processs should take a week or so to complete.
I believe this is not the end of the lawsuit, as Artec 3D had demands beyond ceasing distribution and stopping Kickstarter payments to Creality, which included damages determined by jury. It’s not clear in what state that part of the ligation sits today, but we may hear more in the future.
You might be wondering why a European company would file a complaint against a Chinese company in a US court. That’s because Artec 3D had evidence that US citizens backed the project, and with Kickstarter being a US company, they felt they had jurisdiction to file the case.
The implication of this lawsuit is that we might never again see a major Asian company use Kickstarter as a launch platform for new products, simply to avoid situations like this.
[UPDATE] Backers now report today they’ve received information from Creality offering to ship the 3D scanner if the funds from the refund are applied to a “pledgebox”. In other words, they are selling the 3D scanner through a platform other than Kickstarter in much the same way. The note from Creality said:
“What you need to do is pay the same amount as before through PledgeBox now. The taxes are not included on the price.
Lizard is forced to choose a hard road from the day it was born, but we still try our best to bring it to you. We’re sure you’ll like it. We also hope that more and more users can enjoy the best quality products within their affordable range.
We are sorry for the inconvenience caused, and we will try to provide better products and services in the future.”