Protecting IP in a 3D Printed world


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.

Read more

3D Printing of manufactured goods: An updated analysis

From the legal firm, Reed Smith:

“Over the past two years, Reed Smith has published a comprehensive white paper—3D Printing of Medical Devices: When a Novel Technology Meets Traditional Legal Principles—examining the legal issues associated with 3D printing of medical devices. Over that time, 3D printing has become even more widespread in the medical realm as well as the marketplace as a whole. Almost daily, a new 3D printed product is being designed, marketed, or sold.

This white paper, 3D Printing of Manufactured Goods: An Updated Analysis, complements and expounds on the issues raised by the first edition and examines the legal ramifications and risks associated with all aspects of 3D printing and the different products that this novel technology is capable of creating. While the technology is still in its infancy and the law is untested in many respects, understanding the legal issues is the first step to avoiding potential pitfalls for anyone associated with 3D printing, from designers, to manufactures, to sellers, to consumers.

The chapters that follow include a wide range of developing legal, safety, and security issues:

  • Constitutional Issues (regarding 3D printed guns)
  • Commercial Litigation
  • Product Liability
  • 3D Printing/Component Parts/Raw Materials
  • Insurance Issues
  • Intellectual Property Issues
  • Data Privacy
  • Environmental Safety

This white paper, along with the first edition, is meant to be a comprehensive, up-to-date resource, on the legal issues that are involved in 3D printing. As the law and technology develops, new and updated chapters will be released, with the prior editions serving as building blocks.”

Download the pdf here

The legal implications of printing out new body parts

Tort and privacy law concerns aplenty as it’s revealed we’ll be able to 3D print new organs by 2023.

It is no news that 3D printing has the potential to change our world as much as the internet has over the last two decades.

The industry — at least in the domestic market — is barely a few years old, but the technology is already signalling an age where we can assemble, out of thin air as it were, tools and toys at the push of the button.

Daihatsu, a Japanese manufacturer of small cars and a subsidiary of Toyota, announced on 20 June 2016 that it would begin offering car buyers the opportunity to customise their vehicles with 3D-printed parts. For drivers with more modest budgets, this offers the kind of individual tailoring of vehicles hitherto restricted to the luxury limousines and sports cars of the super-rich.

Read more

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.

Read more

Liability claims: Emerging technological influences to watch

As technology is infused at greater speeds into the insurance industry, an increasing number of liabilities, such as autonomous driving and 3D printing, will rise as result. (Source: Shutterstock)Technology’s influence on the insurance industry continues to grow in the age of digitalization. As the industry continues to infuse technology into its practice, it is increasingly susceptible to technological liabilities, such as increasing cyber and product liabilities and recall risks.

Business models in the digital economy are more complex and without clear borders, making liability harder to apportion and claims more complex to settle — despite the frequency of claims expected to decline. The growing “sharing economy” raises new questions about liability. In the future, a road traffic accident could involve the vehicle manufacturer, software provider, and the fleet operator, as well as third parties involved in the accident.

Read more

Medtech 3D printing: From a San Francisco happening to a legal limbo

3D printed organsIf you’re interested in the intersection of 3D printing and medical technology and happen to be near San Francisco, CA, next week, you might want to carve out some time to attend the 3DHEALS 2017 Global Conference: 3D Print Life. 3D HEALS is dedicated to the proposition that great things can happen if you bring together technologists from the start-up culture of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area and healthcare stakeholders under one roof.

The organization has been around for a couple of years and has produced five successful events during that time. By reaching out to various stakeholders in the healthcare system, technology, regulatory affairs and more, “it made us realize that it takes a village to make revolution happen, and many challenges can only be overcome by a well-organized ecosystem,” write event organizers on the website. “We are hoping that by organizing this global event, 3DHEALS will contribute to fostering this burgeoning yet still fragile ecosystem.”

The liability of hospitals and doctors printing 3D medical devices

 As 3D printing becomes more accessible, it will present significant liability questions for those injured by these devices. If a traditional manufacturer creates a 3D-printed device, that manufacturer is subject to products liability claims. But, when a hospital or doctor prints the device at their own facility, who is responsible if that device causes a patient harm? This article will provide a very brief overview of the existing legal landscape for those injured by medical devices printed by doctors and hospitals, but will not address the liability issues that arise when the 3D printer itself is defective.

Read more

Businesses relaxed about 3D printing risks

This site has highlighted several times that one of the biggest threats to firms employing 3D printing relates to IP.  As well as protecting designs for revenue purposes, as 3D printed items become more used and useful, there will be issues of liability and even safety-criticality that come into play.   Waiting for a problem to arise before tackling it is not the best risk management approach, and preparing today for what is happening tomorrow is necessary.  However, as this article from Chris Gape a BDaily tells, this message is not sinking in.

Robert Ganpatsingh, Partner at law firm DMH StallardNew research from law firm DMH Stallard has found that while many companies are excited by the use and potential of 3D printing, they currently don’t see it posing much of a threat to their intellectual property (IP).

This is despite the fact that 3D printing can make counterfeiting goods easier.

The qualitative research spoke to companies working across such areas as using 3D printing to produce prototypes as well as finished parts, and those developing software relevant to 3D printing, design protection and data logistics.

Robert Ganpatsingh (pictured), Partner at DMH Stallard and one of the researchers, says: “Of the companies we spoke to, who all operated in a business-to-business environment, the majority believed that their IP would be safe if sensible precautions were taken to protect it. Although they did acknowledge that there was more danger to them at the bespoke end of the scale, where very small numbers of highly customised products are made.

Read more

3D Printing and Law Enforcement

A good article from John Horner, a leader in the legal aspects of 3D printing.

3D printing has the potential to transform the world by simplifying manufacturing, shortening supply chains, democratizing production, creating jobs, and customizing products to our needs. But 3D printing can also be the devil’s playground. 3D printing also has a dark side. Guns have already been 3D printed and criminals are using 3D printers to create new forms of crime.

PoliceAlmost everyone has heard about the Texas law student, Cody Wilson, who made headlines in 2013 by 3D printing a plastic gun and posting the blueprints on the Internet. The blueprints were downloaded 100,000 times before the US government forced their removal from the server. But if it had not been Cody, it would have been someone else. In fact, the ZigZag plastic gun was 3D printed in Japan shortly after Wilson printed his and the maker went to jail.

In 2015, police in Oregon made arrests for the illegal possession an AR-15 assault rifle. Its lower receiver—the key to what makes it a weapon—was believed to have been 3D printed. A gun and 3D printing enthusiast called Derwood built the “Shuty” semi-automatic handgun partly from 3D printed parts. The weapon fired at least 800 rounds. More recently, a “Guy in a Garage,” as he calls himself, 3D printed the “Songbird,” which uses rubber bands for springs and a roofing nail for a firing pin, and fires multiple .357 rounds.

Read more