(English) 3D printers: the Sesame to unleashed IPR infringement!

Sunday, 26 January 2014

(English) 3D printers: the Sesame to unleashed IPR infringement!

By Anne-Laure SELLIER

 

IPR holders have serious reasons to worry!

The invention by Professor Calculus in the cartoon of 1972 titled “Tintin and the Lake of Sharks” is not a fantasy any more, as anyone can now relief print a real object himself, with endless applications (consumer goods, weapons, and any objects in the medical, aeronautical, motor and food areas, and many others)!

Using the system really is child’s play. You just have to scan the object or obtain the drawings of the object to print them in 3D, at home, using your own three-dimensional printer or a “fab lab” (fabrication laboratory), depending on the desired object – all this at minimum cost.

So, here we are; the Pandora’s box is now open, and defending one’s intellectual property rights is probably going to be a complex and costly process!

The most sensible thing the companies concerned can do now is to set up an aggressive strategy to counter this “industrial revolution” and avoid ending up in the devastating situation where they would lose a market!

Some of them have already sent letters of complaints, seeking the withdrawal of 3D modeling drawings, or of products printed by means of the 3D printing technology without permission. This is the case of US TV channel HBO, which has initiated an action against nuPROTO, a company specializing in 3D printing and prototyping, concerning a docking station designed for Iphone and Android devices and which reproduces the throne that features in the TV series called “Game of Thrones” whose IPRs are the property of HBO.

But others want to go even further. As an example, Lego and Playmobil both envisage to offer web browsers to use their websites to download game boxes to print at home. Also, a former Microsoft senior officer is said to have filed a patent to prevent 3D printer users from infringing upon “object production rights” (remote verification that the user is effectively authorized to print the object).

So it would seem that IPR legislation will have to adapt to this new technology. Pending future changes in the legislation, which are not set to happen very soon, have you already envisaged any action plan yourself?

 

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