In a complaint filed June 28, 2019, Jabil accused Essentium employees of intellectual property (IP) theft relating to a project the same employees were involved with in prior contracts for the global manufacturer. Specifically, the lawsuit stated that “Essentium’s HSE printers are, foundationally, outdated iterations of Jabil’s TenX.”
In response to the allegations, Steve Birdwell, Essentium’s Chairman of the Board wrote a letter stating that “This action is entirely without merit, and we are responding to it aggressively.”
On August 19, 2019, Essentium therefore moved to dismiss “seventy percent of the claims asserted as being without merit as a matter of law.” In another letter on the company’s site, Essentium CEO Blake Teipel has now stated, “As for the other claims, Essentium asserts that in due course, it will demonstrate that Jabil had no trade secret or confidential information that could give rise to any claim of theft or misappropriation, nor did Essentium and the other defendants do so.”
The CEO also accuses Jabil of bullying behavior and “attempting to derail innovation.”
Like many other companies in the 3D printing industry, Jabil and Essentium histories are entwined. Dating back prior to 2016, several members of Essentium’s founding team were employees at Jabil, charged in part with working on a confidential project for the company. This project was development of the so-called TenX 3D printer, an as-yet unreleased system from Jabil, reportedly capable of print speeds ten times faster than competing methods.
While the question of print speed claims is not something that would warrant a lawsuit on its own, on the release of the company’s HSE 180-S, also reporting the same print speeds with an FFF-based technology, the work history of some of Essentium’s team prompted Jabil’s allegation of IP theft . Essentium’s current CPO Erik Gjovik, the company’s former CCO Greg Ojeda, and Terry MacNeish, head of R&D, have all been accused of “conspiring against” Jabil while under contract with the company.
“On the Topic of Innovation”
In addition to a statement by Birdwell, Teipel followed Jabil’s allegation with a letter to its partners “On the Topic of Innovation.” In it, the CEO states that “Essentium will not be distracted from our vision and our strategy to transform the future of industrial-scale manufacturing.”
“That Jabil seeks to undermine the honest work of others in the additive manufacturing industry sends a chilling message to innovators everywhere,” Teipel continues, “thus causing harm well beyond Essentium and its customers and partners.”
Following up on the comments made in this letter, dated August 3, 2019, Teipel, on August 20, added, “When markets such as ours face disruption, there are the disruptors and the disrupted. Typically, the incumbents are the disrupted; and these incumbents resist change.”
“Jabil appears to be behaving like an incumbent and is attempting to derail innovation – particularly fast-paced innovation like that of Essentium and other startups.”
The full letter posted by the CEO can be read below.
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Featured image shows Essentium’s High Speed Extrusion 3D Printing Platform. Photo via Essentium.