An interesting and very relevant article was posted on the blog 3D Printer.net
New technology often arrives hand-in-hand with ethical or legal quandaries. When agribusinesses first began to patent new cultivars of drought-resistant or higher-yield crops, farmers wondered how a company could patent a living thing. When bioengineers first began transferring genes from those new plant cultivars to other crops in order to produce frost-resistant fruits or vegetables that were immune from specific diseases, people debated whether or not genetic modification was ethical. When pharmaceutical companies modified bacterial genes to create living factories that produced insulin or fruit extracts, people argued over the very meanings of the words natural and artificial, and legal scholars wondered if naturally occurring molecules, identical in every way to those produced inside the human body or within living plants or animals, could even be patented.
3D Scanners Open Door to Intellectual Property Infringement
The cutting-edge of manufacturing technology is now 3D printing. And along with 3D printing comes its cousin 3D scanning. In the same way that 3D printing adds a vertical dimension to standard laser or ink-jet printing, 3D scanning technology adds a vertical capability to flat optical scanners.
The coupling of 3D digital modeling with 3D printing technology places an unprecedented ability into the hands of any consumer–or competitor. Some countries do not support intellectual or creative property rights, and 3D scanning potentially offers a fast and convenient way to copy patented or copyrighted designs.