3D printing and your IP rights

The advent of three-dimensional (3D) printing comes with the obvious question: what happens to intellectual property (IP) rights?

Image Source: forbes.com

Just about anyone who owns a 3D printer and has access to a 3D “blueprint” of an object can print it at home. There are already a lot of things that can be printed –hand guns, hand bags, even medicines and pizza. A wide range of materials can in fact be used like polymers, metals, and organic compounds.

Based on the International Chamber of Commerce’s current estimates, counterfeit products compose about five to seven percent of total world trade. This equates to around $600 billion lost every year to fake products.

Image Source: mashable.com

With the 3D printer in the picture, those figures can drastically change. Taking cues from the lot of digital music, vanguards of intellectual property are on their toes for the digitization of objects.

With times changing and such an onslaught of multiple product replication inevitable, it is always best for creators to secure their rights. Therefore, all forms of IP protection should be availed. It is advisable to register patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Licensing the design will also ensure that anyone who may want to print will have to seek authorization or pay for the “blueprint.”

Image Source: gigaom.com

So in the event that counterfeiters get a hold of your design illegally, you can then expect protection from the law.

Brad Lyerla is a partner at Jenner & Block and an expert in IP litigation. Learn more IP-related issues in this Facebook page.


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