3D Printing and Intellectual Property

3D Printing and Intellectual Property

In the light of the development of modern science, we can say with full responsibility that after some time, many inventions will become available to everyone. The reason for this is the rapid development of 3D printing. To understand the possible scale of future changes, it is necessary to delve into the very essence of 3D technology.

The working principle of 3D printers is very simple. Information about any material object is loaded into the memory of the 3D printer. He, by analogy with a conventional paper printout, creates (reproduces on the basis of data) a material object. The only difference from 2D printers is that the object is rendered in 3D space.

A professional 3D printer actually fuses materials using the power of adhesives, temperature, chemicals, light or electron beams. A 3D printer can use plastic, metal, glass, ceramics, wood, sand and even human tissue to print. 3D printing allows you to produce a product without the participation of additional machines and mechanisms.

3D printing and intellectual property: threats

Despite all the benefits of 3D printing, in practice, its distribution may face legal obstacles.

First, this technology reduces the market chain to two links: the inventor (creator) and the consumer, excluding intermediaries. Globally, this will result in a sharp decline in the number of participants in trade transactions.

Let’s give a simple example, let’s say a person decides to buy a new car. Instead of going to a car dealership, as they did before, he simply downloads the information from the Internet in the form of a regular file into a 3D printer and prints out all the car parts in order, and then assembles the car in the yard.

Second, let’s not forget that in the age of copyright, there are many high quality digital products out there. They are distributed by the copyright holders themselves absolutely free.

Accordingly, in the new information society there will always be a free alternative to almost any material product. You will only need to spend money on refueling the printer.

It is not difficult to understand that global companies, in order to avoid their ruin, will try to prevent such a system.

Intellectual property can prevent the free distribution of material objects using 3D printers. In the narrow sense – patent and copyright. If there is a copyright, then the copyright holder will be obliged to pay for the data for creating material objects. And it is far from the fact that this copyright holder will be “good faith”. And even if the author of a new object of intellectual property is ready to distribute it free of charge, then existing patents may interfere with doing so.

It is hard to imagine that multinational corporations would simply accept the idea that they will become unnecessary. There is a risk that they will become an extra link in the market, where goods are distributed through the transfer of information through the worldwide network. The only thing that can preserve their capital in the changed conditions is intellectual property in the form of many restrictions on the use of technologies.

For example, it’s no secret that any mobile device contains hundreds of patents. Accordingly, no mobile phone can be released without taking into account the interests of the patent holders.

Topical issues of protection of intellectual rights

In the process of using 3D modeling programs, objects can be created, the design of which is new and original. In such circumstances, it is necessary to remember about the forms of possible legal protection of the appearance of the product provided by law. This refers to the quality of a copyright object, a three-dimensional trademark or an industrial design.

If there are exclusive rights to a volumetric trademark, the copyright holder has the right to prohibit the production, import and sale of homogeneous products similar as well as, within the framework of civil liability, to collect monetary compensation for violation of their rights.

It can be assumed that soon the main efforts of giant corporations will be devoted to the introduction of norms on unlimited renewal of the exclusive rights to patents.

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