Spokane Journal of Business

Patent claims against Continuous Composites denied

Trial against competitor scheduled for December

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Six petitions seeking to invalidate patent claims of Coeur d’Alene-based additive manufacturer Continuous Composites Inc. have been denied, and a seventh is set to be reviewed in November.

That yet-to-be-resolved issue will occur ahead of a trial involving Continuous Composites’ initial claim of patent infringement against competitor Markforged Inc.

Ryan Stockett, director of intellectual property at Continuous Composites, says the company brought a lawsuit against Watertown, Massachusetts-based Markforged in 2021, alleging infringement of five of its foundational patents.

Stockett says Continuous Composites filed its original provisional patent, which enables an applicant to establish a new invention, in 2012, before Markforged filed in 2013.

Last year, the Massachusetts-based company responded to Continuous Composites’ complaint by filing seven petitions to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for inter partes review. Such reviews are patent office proceedings in which a third party—Markforged, in this case—claims that an issued patent is invalid.

“Our original provisional application provides the foundation for printing with continuous fiber,” Stockett says. “Markforged and pretty much any technology out there that currently is printing with continuous fiber in some type of matrix, whether that’s plastic or thermoset, would rely on the technology disclosed in our foundational application.”

Stockett says Continuous Composites has reached out to Markforged in previous years to discuss allowing Markforged to license the Coeur d’Alene company’s technology, but the two companies have been unable to come to an agreement.

Continuous Composites designs and makes robotic arms to build composite parts for many applications using materials such as carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. The technology layers the fibers using robotic technology while simultaneously curing the materials with ultraviolet light.

It also can print using optical fiber, copper wire, and nichrome wire, which can accommodate sensors, circuits, and heating elements embedded in composites.

Located at 215 E. Lakeside in downtown Coeur d’Alene, Continuous Composites currently has 45 total employees. 

Continuous Composites is dually represented in this situation by Spokane-based intellectual property law firm Lee & Hayes PC and San Francisco-based law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Virginia Thomas
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Reporter Virginia Thomas has worked at the Journal since 2017 and covers the health care industry. As a reporter, she loves learning about Spokane's many growing industries. She enjoys traveling with her husband, snuggling with her cats, and cross stitching.

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