3D printing not unlike Napster in challenging intellectual property laws

Financial Post | Business

The advent of 3D printing, with its ability to alter business and effect social change, raises a host of challenges related particularly to the unauthorized reproduction of products protected by intellectual property  law.

Writing in an IP Report published by Gowling Lafleur Henderson, the firm’s Stephanie Curcio describes “the multifaceted IP challenges that are implicated by [3D printing’s] use both commercially and directly by consumers.”

Using a digital blueprint, 3D printing uses various forms of layering technology to create three-dimensional objects. Currently limited to small plastic products, “the technology will soon exist to allow consumers to personally print anything from customized toys and jewellery, to functional goods such as replacement parts for lawn mowers.”

As Curcio points out, 3D printing patents were first filed over 30 years ago, and a number of the initial patents are expiring or have expired. This has allowed others “to bring additional 3D printing technologies to the…

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