October 19, 2020 8:32 am Published by

What’s mine, is yours ?

In the extremely digitised age we are living in, there are many technologies which change our way of life and one of them is 3D printing. 3D printing has developed from a merely hobbyist and scientific use to industrial manufacturing over the last 30 years. This poses a challenge for IP laws to embrace such an all-encompassing technology to protect against possible IP infringement. As of now, intellectual owners and 3D printing enthusiasts share a concern: will the law be strong enough to protect them. Before we examine how 3D printing affects the patent system I will introduce you to 3D printing technology.

What is 3D printing?

3D printing, also known as “additive manufacturing”, is the process of creating three-dimensional structures made from plastic, rubber, concrete, metal or even human cells. These structures are “printed” based on a digital model, usually a computer-aided design (CAD) file. CAD files can be created in various different ways. For example, by scanning an object or by designing the file yourself you can create products ranging from houses, guns, chocolate bars to organs for transplantation.

How does 3D printing challenge IP law?

The boundary between an idea and invention in the context of 3D printing and IP law is very blurred. 3D printing poses a major threat to inventors and manufacturers because it represents a loss of potential sale to the patent holder. Nowadays anyone can manufacture a patented object at home with a 3D printer which from a legal point of view could be an action of patent infringement. The owner or operator of the printer could be liable for infringement, however, it is very difficult for the patent owner to prove infringement. This is due to the fact that in 3D printing the manufacturer is the end user who downloads a file and creates the object using a 3D printer. Also, it is difficult to prove which individuals downloaded or used a particular CAD file.

How to protect your inventions? 

As the current patent laws are still adapting to the challenges of 3D printing it is better to start thinking about other robust strategies to protect your invention. This could be done in various ways – by creating a licensing model or implementing strong internal security measures within your business. 

For support with protecting IP visit www.pekama.com, here you can find IP professionals covering the whole range of IP rights from every jurisdiction in the world, with the team helping you to get in contact with those professionals and facilitate the conversation doing this the most cost-effective way. Please get in touch with Viktoria at [email protected] to get further information on how they can help.

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