Tag Archives: IP

European Parliament considers 3D Printing IP and Civil Liability

A badge with a character resembling Mickey Mouse in reference to the in popular culture rationale behind the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998, the badge was made by Nina Paley.The relationship between 3D printing, copyright, and the protection of intellectual property has experienced some strain due to its necessarily digital nature. Readers may remember a debacle surrounding the unauthorized sale of 3D printed designs by Louise Driggers (aka Loubie) – an issue that was quickly cleared up thanks to the online community.

In a landmark case running parallel to the industry, some of the grey areas surrounding design ownership were also resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

However, today in Brussels members of JURI, the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs, met to discuss intellectual property (IP) rights and civil liability of 3D printing.

In session with Conservative, Liberal and Green Party members Joëlle Bergeron, a member of the Eurosceptic Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy group and former member of France’s National Front, presented an own-initiative report proposing legislative action to control and monitor additive manufacturing activity.

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Treatstock gives further insights into watermark safeguard for 3D printing

From creation to manufacturing, protecting the IP of a 3D design is challenging, especially when an STL file can be so easily shared from peer to peer. Watermark, a security application from 3D design library Treatstock aims to address this.

Speaking to 3D Printing Industry, Treatstock head of marketing Rufat Bayramov said that the company was inspired by the “prevalent issue of copyright violation” to develop the free online software.

Treatstock Watermark allows a designer to upload an STL file and integrate it with hidden “watermark” information before being put in the public domain. An STL file can also be uploaded to the platform and checked for security information.

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Government and 3D Printing: A new line of innovation to protect

3D printer printingFor the last 20 years, manufacturers have used 3D printing to build prototypes, but it was only recently that this industrial technology entered the mainstream.  The 3D printing of products can enable faster time-to-market, save money, mitigate risk and allow manufacturers to customize a component to suit customer needs. 3D printing can produce individual, specifically tailored parts on demand. Boeing printed an entire plane cabin in 2013 and Ford can manufacture vehicle parts in four days that would have taken four months using traditional methods.

After realizing the boost 3D printing could deliver to manufacturing, the U.S. government increased funding for institutions researching AM technologies. In 2012 the federally funded National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) was launched — a $30 million pilot institute aimed at boosting 3D printing’s use in manufacturing. Also referred to as America Makes, the institute works with brilliant minds from industry, academia, and government. It is expected that these collaborations will help reduce the period of development between a lab’s proof-of-concept and commercial product. With the U.S. government investing more in AM and 3D printing techniques, governmental organizations are now starting to integrate the technology into their own processes.

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Protecting IP in a 3D Printed world

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Three-dimensional printing technology has made impressive advances over the last several years. Thirty years ago when 3D printing was first invented, this new technology was rather expensive, difficult to use, and limited to prototyping of only small components. Today, significant developments in 3D printing technology, work flow control software, and materials science have all allowed 3D printing to be used in virtually every technology and business sector—from 3D printing of industrial products and components, to even bioprinting of human organs.

3D printing is also no longer limited to fabricating components from a single material and can today combine multiple printing materials to 3D print fully functional multi-material components, including drones and other electrical and mechanical devices. While there has been great excitement about the many advantages and benefits that 3D printing presents, commentators have pointed out that the proliferation of 3D printing technology will have significant implications to traditional business and legal frameworks, and notably to existing intellectual property (IP) laws. This article looks at some of the ways 3D printing technology fails to mesh with existing IP law and offers possible strategies to address some of these concerns.

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3D Printing of spare parts: the challenges are surmountable

The opportunity to use additive manufacturing to print spare parts is widely recognized.  In ARC’s conversations with industry insiders, we have come across many companies that have beta projects and are printing a small number of parts, but no company that is doing this at scale. There are a number of challenges associated with scaling additive manufacturing in the supply chain:

  • Old parts are often the slow-moving parts, does the company still have the design specs for these parts?
  • A big company may have tens of thousands of slow moving SKUs. Are they willing to dispose of that inventory and write it off?
  • The performance and lifespan of a printed part will be different than traditional parts. In some cases, it may be better. But the testing pro-cess may be lengthy.
  • Can companies insure that a repeatable, high quality process will be used to print parts in myriad warehouses around the world?
  • Companies do not want to share their intellectual property with third parties like LSPs. If they are working with contract manufacturers from areas where counterfeiting is common, they also need to ensure that only the specified number of parts are printed.
  • There can be cultural issues: many people just don’t like to do things in a new way; further, manufacturing executives in charge of spare part production may have to cede authority for many parts to supply chain executives.

But the challenges are not insurmountable.  Those manufacturers that are ahead of their peers are the ones that have concept centers with dedicated staffs devoted to exploiting this technology.  Manufacturers that have advanced further have targets for determining the SKUs that will have the best ROI and have set goals for saving money in this area.

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How are companies dealing with 3D printing?

As keen fans make and distribute models of protected intellectual property, copyright-owners are mulling their response

THREE-DIMENSIONAL (3D) printers have proliferated in homes, schools and workplaces over the past five years. Last year more than 420,000 desktop-sized 3D printers, which make things by depositing one thin layer of material over another, much as printers ink a page one line at a time, were sold. Combined with the increased availability of 3D scanners and free 3D-modelling software, this has led to a proliferation of 3D-printed models available online. They are found on sites such as Shapeways, where customers can order tools and toys “printed” from models, or Thingiverse, where people with 3D printers share models among themselves. Some designs, such as Pokémon chess sets or mini-Millennium Falcons, are based on intellectual property (IP) that belongs to companies—in this case Nintendo and Disney—known for guarding their copyrights jealously. How are companies dealing with the latest threat to their IP?

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The spread of 3D models creates intellectual-property problems

GROOT, a character from Disney’s film “Guardians of the Galaxy”, is usually mass-produced by the entertainment company as a small, collectable figurine and sold by retailers such as Toys “R” Us. But just before the release of the second film in the franchise earlier this year, Byambasuren Erdenejargal, a Mongolian enthusiast, noticed that people in a 3D-printing group on Facebook were searching for a computer model of Groot. So Mr Erdenejargal decided to create one. He spent four days perfecting the design and its printability before uploading his creation to Thingiverse, an online 3D-printing community based in New York. His digital model of the arboreal creature has since been downloaded (and probably printed in physical form) over 75,000 times.

Fans of popular TV programmes and films have long used arts and crafts to express their attachment to fictional characters. Etsy, an online marketplace for artisanal products, is full of Harry Potter-inspired golden-snitch charms. But a combination of 3D modelling, scanning and cheap 3D printers allows fans to reproduce items like never before.

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To print or not to print: Innovation and IP issues in 3D printing

3D printing used to be an expensive product design tool, but it is quickly becoming an affordable and accessible technology. First emerging in the 1980s, the availability of low-cost, high-performance 3D printers has put the technology firmly within reach of consumers. While this provides a number of opportunities for designers and manufacturers, there is also concern around the impact on IP rights.

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Wipro set to secure manufacturing processes with blockchain system

Global information technology company Wipro is developing manufacturing applications that are built upon a blockchain and targeted at 3D printer systems.

A chain of blocks?

Speaking to Automation World, Wipro’s general manager and business unit leader – Sanjeev Ramakrishnan explains how Wipro has developed a blockchain system with four main offerings. These include measures for anti-counterfeiting, aerospace certification, supply chain and additive manufacturing.

Wipro3D currently offers metal 3D printing services. Image via Wipro3D. Blockchain as a decentralized network, resilient to malicious data tampering is seen as advantageous for data security and integrity. With cybersecurity increasingly making headlines, such characteristics are understandably appealing.

Next generation cryptocurrencies such as the Ethereum platform have added another level of sophistication to blockchain, for example the ability to execute scripts that permit automated negotiation via smart contracts.

Wipro’s additive manufacturing arm, Wipro3D recently partnered with US 3D printing consultancy firm Print Form to expand the company’s global 3D printing operations.

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Hi-Tech: 3D printing opens up IP can of worms | Luigi Benetton

Luigi Benetton %>Three-dimensional printing can be used to create all sorts of physical objects, from small toys to entire houses. Whole economies may be transformed if it’s cheaper to print products near where they’re sold instead of importing from faraway lands, and the effects on society don’t end there. Three-dimensional printing is also called additive manufacturing. It shapes raw materials into the desired form without the waste caused by subtractive manufacturing, or machining, where machines cut pieces of raw material to create objects.

As it becomes more widespread, 3D printing will affect many lawyers, and not just in the courtroom. “My firm has represented clients involved in 3D printing,” said Maya Eckstein, a Richmond, Va.-based partner and head of the intellectual property practice group at Hunton & Williams LLP. “It isn’t a huge part of anybody’s practice at this point,” she added.

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