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Kickstarter sued over 3-D printer project it backed

Crowdfunding site gets caught in patent dispute

Crowd-funding website Kickstarter, which launched in the UK last month, is being sued for its promotion of a new 3D printer, reports the BBC.

Over 2,000 users contributed almost £2 million to enable MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Media Lab researchers launch Formlabs, which is also being sued for alleged patent infringements.

3D Systems, a leading maker of 3D printers, is taking the US action over one of its patents covering a printing technique called stereolithography. The technology involves directing an ultraviolet laser across a liquid synthetic substance to cause a thin layer to solidify.

This process is then repeated layer-by-layer, and the shape of the object is determined by the pattern drawn by the laser beam.

Formlabs had previously said its printer was cheaper than others on the market as it didn't have to rely on the patents of other companies that had gone before it.

3-D Systems is suing Kickstarter as it claims its promotion of Formlabs has cost it sales of its own devices. Kickstarter takes a cut of the money raised through its site.

Kickstarter is also being sued by rival crowd-funding site ArtistShare over the use of database software and how it can be used to raise cash for creative works.

Everything from films, games and music to art, design and technology projects can be funded by private individuals and companies via the Kickstarter platform.

Launched in the US in April 2009, Kickstarter says over $350 million (£218m) has been pledged by more than 2.5 million people to fund more than 30,000 creative projects.

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