3-D printers could blur lines of patent laws and others

As three-dimensional printing technology reaches the place at which the personal computer arrived in the late 1980s — the American home — it may bring legal and practical issues along with it.

“It’s the first time that the average person is coming into contact with patent law,” said Deven R. Desai, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.

Patent law, environmental issues and the simple equation of personal time divided by patience make it uncertain that 3-D printers in every home will produce anything more than shelves full of tchotchkes.

“I think of technology as value-neutral; it offers a lot of opportunity for people,” said Michael Weinberg, a lawyer with Public Knowledge, a Washington, D.C.-based group that advocates for open Internet access.

The opportunity with 3-D printing is that the average person can make something a replacement part for a coffee-maker — or produce a whole new coffee-maker.

That opportunity could be a threat, say, to Keurig, maker of the popular single-serve coffee maker.

“We don’t really know what it looks like when 100 million people in the United States have a 3-D printer,” Weinberg said.

What it may feel like for patent-holding businesses is an upset stomach.

 

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Source: providencejournal.com

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