The thief in the 3D printing world may not be who you think

The world of 3D printing designers was set abuzz recently, when popular designer Asher Nahmias pulled his work from a well-known online store in protest after Stratasys, one of the biggest 3D printer manufacturers, improperly used one of his designs.

The incident – not the first and surely not the last – represented a curious reversal of sorts. Often, discussions about copyright or patent infringement related to 3D printing revolve around the idea of individuals stealing designs from corporations.

In this scenario, it was the reverse, highlighting just how much confusion there is around rights in 3D printing and how much work needs to be done to figure out how best to protect against improper use.

“With all the things this technology is capable of delivering in terms of improving designs and enhancing sustainability and delivering better personalized medical treatment, there are also a lot of unintended consequences,” said Avi Reichental, president and CEO of 3D Systems, a 3D printer maker that itself has also been accused of improperly using Nahmias’ designs. “Piracy and patent infringement and copyright infringement are going to be part and parcel of the unintended consequences powered by the same technology that can do so much good.”

Form over function

Most of the legal issues around 3D printing aren’t that different than those around artwork, photography, manufacturing or digital music, said Michael Weinberg, a vice president at Public Knowledge and an attorney who has written two books about intellectual property and 3D printing. For instance, copyright automatically protects purely decorative objects, like sculptures, whether they are created by hand with clay or with a 3D printer.

Read More



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.