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EFF files to invalidate six 3D printing patent applications, and it's just getting started

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Since Julie Samuels joined the EFF as the Mark Cuban Chair to Eliminate Stupid Patents, she’s spearheaded the movement to keep 3D printing free by challenging new applications with crowdsourced prior art. Today, the EFF is announcing that it and its partners including Harvard’s Cyberlaw Clinic and Ask Patents have now submitted documents on six pending applications, including one for a “Ribbon Filament and Assembly for Use in Extrusion-based Digital Manufacturing Systems” — i.e., using a filament that’s fettucine-shaped instead of spaghetti-shaped because it melts more quickly.

This ability for third parties to help invalidate patents before they’re even granted comes thanks to a new provision in the America Invents Act that lets anyone submit any “printed publication of potential relevance to the examination of the application.” As the industry grows, companies and individuals are trying to stake out a piece of the action, both by filing for new patents and aggressively asserting old ones. Formlabs, the startup behind the high-precision Form 1 printer, is one of several companies in the growing sector to be hit with patent infringement claims.

The EFF isn't planning to stop its crusade at 3D printing

Samuels has taken to Stack Exchange to collect ideas, giving everyone the ability to chip in with prior art, which so far has ranged from actual patents to simple blog posts. The EFF isn’t planning to stop its crusade at 3D printing, either — members already planning to investigate pending applications for patents related to mesh networking.