SLM Solutions and Identify3D collaborate to protect IP in 3D printing

SLM Solutions, a German metal 3D printer manufacturer, has announced that it will integrate the digital security platform of San Francisco-based Identify3D into its workflow. The partnership is an effort to protect intellectual property (IP) in additive manufacturing.

Digital files protected by Identify3D can only be manufactured with an authenticated machine. Image via Identify3D.

CTO of SLM Solutions Dr. Gereon Heinemann, said, “SLM Solutions recognizes the trend as additive transforms manufacturing into a digital workflow.”

Intellectual property in 3D printing

As the applications of 3D printing has widened, protection of intellectual propertyhas become a greater concern. This issue is also among the reasons some companies develop in-house prototyping facilities. Recently, the UK Intellectual Property Office participated in the IP in 3D printing debate.

Founded in 2014, Identify3D aims to protect IP in 3D printing by encrypting the digital supply chain. The company is partners with several leading enterprises including 3YOURMINDRenishawSiemens, and America Makes.

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3D Printing and the Law: Interview with Rania Sedhom

The law and 3D printing is a very exciting emerging area of interest for many. What exactly happens with to 3D printed products and liability or IP? Most people in 3D printing don’t want separate laws for 3D printing or 3D printed goods. But, in 3D printed guns we’ve seen lawmakers jump into the crazy clown car of legislating by press release and make separate laws for 3D printing. What will the future hold? Rania Sedhom of Sedhom Law Group reached out to us to share her insights.

Lawmakers seem intent on creating new legislation specifically for 3D printing. Do you agree with that?

Yes, I do. While the technology is a mesh (pun intended) of software and textile, it is unique and needs its own legislation.

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3D Printing and gaps in Intellectual Property law

In a paper entitled “From IP Goals to 3D Holes: Does Intellectual Property Law Provide a Map or Gap in the Era of 3D Printing?” author Autumn Smith discusses issues with intellectual property law and 3D printing. 3D printing complicated as it “stretches across many facets of the law,” says Smith. It involves a machine, a product, a digital process, and often the translation of that process.

In a paper entitled “From IP Goals to 3D Holes: Does Intellectual Property Law Provide a Map or Gap in the Era of 3D Printing?” author Autumn Smith discusses issues with intellectual property law and 3D printing. 3D printing complicated as it “stretches across many facets of the law,” says Smith. It involves a machine, a product, a digital process, and often the translation of that process.

“The eventual low cost of 3D printing combined with their ability to produce most physical things will fundamentally change the economics of industrial manufacturing,” states Smith. “Much like the Internet, 3D printers separate the content of the product from the information used to create it, which, in turn, will substantially reduce the manufacturing costs. This feature will inevitably mean that the production of items can come from virtually anywhere which will certainly present problems for governments and markets.”

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Major 3D-printing breakthrough could keep design pirates at bay

Trying to prove who designed and built what in 3D printing was envisaged as costly to major manufacturers, until now.

The amazing aspect of 3D printing is that anyone, anywhere, with the right equipment, can print and build an object almost identical to an already existing one.

A clear 3D-printed dome containing a variety of dummy and real QR codes.

While this sounds great in theory, for major manufacturers it creates one major headache: how do you prove a design is yours?

Not only that, but what liability does a company have if someone steals its design, creates a poorly made copy and it leads to a major accident?

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Sparing a thought for Intellectual Property

With the rapid rise of the additive manufacturing sector, it has become increasingly possible for industry players to make spare and replacement parts in a cost-effective manner. What’s more, the sector lends itself especially well to the fabrication of parts for the customisation of existing products and equipment. As such, all parties in the supply chain need to be acutely aware of the very real risks of IP infringement in this evolving space, says Jason Teng, partner and patent attorney at leading full service IP law firm, Potter Clarkson.

As things stand, different considerations apply depending on the type of IP rights covering a particular part or a complex product that includes the part. For instance, the manufacture of a whole patented product would normally constitute patent infringement, unless certain exceptions apply such as private non-commercial use. On the other hand, the manufacture of a spare/replacement part for incorporation into a patented product could either constitute an infringing “making” of the patented product or a non-infringing “repair”, which would vary on a case-by-case basis. On this note, some guidance can be found in a 2011 Supreme Court decision in the Schütz v Werit case.

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CECIMO worries further 3D printing IP regulation in Europe will stifle innovation

CECIMO believes the current 3D printing intellectual property rights framework is fit for purpose.

CECIMO logoCECIMO, the European Association of the Machine Tool Industries, has said the European Parliament risks stifling 3D printing innovation by introducing premature regulatory measures to protect Intellectual Property.

The European Parliament recently released a non-binding resolution entitled ‘Three-dimensional printing: intellectual property rights and civil liability’, with 631 votes in favour, 27 against, and 19 abstentions. It called for sterner parameters surrounding IP infringements and has suggested a potential revision of the Liability and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regulatory framework for 3D printing within the European Union, and has also raised the feasibility of national copyright levy systems.

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3D Printing could be blockchain’s true game-changer

After multiple proofs of concept, pilots and early rollouts, supply chain management is emerging as the killer app for enterprise blockchain technology, the very first to be “going live” – to cite the theme of this year’s Consensus conference.

But while multiple blockchain projects worldwide are demonstrating how smart contracts, data sharing protocols and cryptographic traceability can unlock trade finance, improve risk management, streamline customs processing and boost transparency, the biggest change for global trade is yet to come.

That will be when the Internet of Things, 3D printing and other automating technologies finally free manufacturing from the constraints of geography. At that moment, blockchain technology could come into its own, enabling an entirely new paradigm of decentralized, on-demand production and forcing a realignment of global economic power.

Reaching this new paradigm requires advances in all these technologies. But just as importantly, it will require manufacturers to adopt a more open-minded approach toward optimizing the balance between competition and collaboration and toward the role that blockchains can play in finding that.

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Brand owners should harness benefits of 3D printing

As 3D printing has not had the negative impact that was expected, brands should be harnessing the benefits of the technology, according to Justin Pierce, chair of Venable’s IP division.

Pierce says that “savvy brand owners and manufacturers can harness the benefits of 3D printing technology and offer a wide variety of product accessories, and efficiently offer replacement parts”.

“By proactively using 3D printing to both produce high-quality goods and enable greater consumer access to one’s brand, businesses have much to gain from an early investment in this market,” Pierce adds.

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Regulations, IP, Expertise on 3D Printing: Excellent interview with John Hornick

The recent inaugural Additive Manufacturing Strategies summit, hosted with SmarTech Markets Publishing, brought together experts in medical and dental 3D printing alongside legal and business leaders to share thoughts on the future of additive manufacturing in human healthcare. The event, rich in expertise, filled two days with insightful presentations and conversations in Washington, D.C., allowing for a unique opportunity to network and learn from leading minds in technology and regulation. When we initially announced the summit back in September, one of the first names added to the agenda was one familiar throughout the legal and 3D printing fields: Finnegan Partner John Hornick.

Hornick, who has been generous with his expertise in sharing his thoughts with us through previous interviews as well as thoughtful articles, has built up a strong background in intellectual property (IP) as it impacts the business of 3D printing. As an IP lawyer and highly regarded authorand speaker, Hornick has a well-established reputation as a thought leader; it was a pleasure to finally meet him face-to-face during the AMS summit last week. At the summit, Hornick spoke on a panel entitled “The Future of 3D Printing in Medical Markets” and moderated one called “Additive Medicine and Dentistry: Investment Industry and VC Perspective.” During these presenstations and in subsequent conversation, Hornick brought to the table a wealth of ideas regarding the future of 3D printing, as well as the customization and democratization of design and manufacturing allowed for through this advanced technology.

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The industrialisation of 3D printing: Why companies must now especially protect their IP and data

Dr. Andreas Leupold has been advising and representing clients from Germany, England, USA and many other countries mainly in IT Law, Technology, 3D Printing, Media and Trademark Law, Copyright and Unfair Competition Law.

Leupold_highres_rgb_01.jpgDr. Leupold is the editor and co-author of the handbook “3D Printing” which he wrote with a team of over 30 contributors that features industry leaders such as Terry Wohlers of Wohlers Associates and Peter Sander of Airbus Industries. He is a founding member of the supervisory council of the network “Mobility goes additive” initiated by the German Railway Deutsche Bahn. Here, he discusses the importance of protecting intellectual property and data in additive manufacturing. 

2018 will be an exciting year for 3D printing. Additive manufacturing (AM) has, for a long time, been mainly used in tool and prototype construction, and it is now moving into series production. Adidas recently announced that in the coming year it will be producing 100,000 Futurecraft sneakers using Carbon’s digital light synthesis technology and Airbus is cooperating with Daimler and the systems producer EOS in the additive mass production of aluminium parts.

These and other developments in AM have not escaped the eyes of lawyers for emerging technologies following market changes and their effects on the legal prerequisites for reducing business risks. With the rapidly advancing industrialisation of 3D printing, the legal questions that these pose are gaining importance, in particular, intellectual ownership of construction data and 3D printable designs and 3D models.

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