Recently, I was at a technology fair with my young son and there were multiple desktop 3D printers that were on display and for sale. One display that caught my eye showed 16 printers stacked together with each one in a different stage of printing. Several of the printers were printing figures of dragons and dinosaurs. My son thought they looked like fun and asked for one for his birthday. I asked him what he would use it for and he said that he would want to print out dinosaur figures, action figures, ships from Star Wars® or missing Lego® pieces. He said that he could make his toys exactly how he wanted his toys to look.

This got me thinking and I wondered if he could actually do it, print toys and figures that are protected by copyrights. Wouldn’t it be great if you could just print that missing Monopoly® piece?Continue Reading Toys On Demand? A Child’s Best Friend

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we discussed copyright issues for 3D printers. Not all companies have made the decision to jump into the world of 3D printing. Parts 1 and 2 may not have applied to you at all. However, no matter your business, your company may have to deal with a third party printing your company’s product, in violation of your rights.

If a direct competitor has begun printing a product which is clearly in violation of your copyright, enforcement is relatively straight forward. However, the scary (and revolutionary) thing about 3D printers is that anyone can print your product from the comfort of their easy chair. Infringers are no longer restricted to the few businesses that can afford to ramp up large-scale production. How do you handle enforcement if the infringer is a relatively small time start-up? What if the infringer is a fan of your product?Continue Reading 3D Printing Part 3 – Enforcement of Copyrights Against 3D Printers

At a high level, creating a 3D printed product involves several steps. First, the product itself is conceived. Next, the product is designed in a computer aided design program, and must be converted into a set of electronic instructions that tell the 3D printer how to create the product. In some instances, the CAD program itself may create the printer instructions. The last step is the actual printing of the product. Not all businesses can employ in-house designers and technical personnel who are capable of engineering a product and/or creating printing instructions for that product. For those that can, it may still be more economical to hire outside help from time to time.
Continue Reading 3D Printing Part 2 – The Dangers of Third Party Designers

In this three-part series, we will discuss various copyright issues that may arise from 3D printing. The first two posts in the series will address copyright issues for companies that are just beginning to utilize (or are thinking about utilizing) 3D printing. The final post in this series, however, will address a company’s reactions to other 3D printers who create potentially infringing products. In this post specifically, we will address some basic copyright pitfalls of 3D printers.

Copyright laws, of course, protect artistic works by guaranteeing their authors the right to control how those works are reproduced, distributed, modified, etc. Many types of works in the visual arts may be fodder for copyright infringement by 3D printers; sculptural works are the most likely candidates. Using a 3D printer to recreate a copyrighted work or a derivative of a copyrighted work is likely to be textbook copyright infringement. 3D printing has not created many new copyright infringement issues, but has instead allowed for such infringements to occur much more easily.
Continue Reading 3D Printing Part 1 – So You Want To Start 3D Printing? A Copyright Perspective