3D printers: The death of industrial property?

Lawyou — viernes, 26 de febrero de 2021

From LAWYOU we consider it important to pay attention to 3D printers that, through their technology, blur the line between the digital and the physical world.

As a consequence of the price drop of this type of printers, with time, there will be an expansion of these, being especially relevant to analyze, both its operation, as well as its transcendence in the Law.

How does it work?
3D printers allow users to print products, or parts of larger objects, through a computerized and mechanical process. The user, by means of specific software can design a personal model, digitally. The program will then generate a 3D design file for printing. If the user himself has the printer and materials, he can print the designed object at home.

What can be printed?

There is a wide variety of possibilities, from cell phone cases, nuts and bolts, or to objects for scale models. However, the difficulty of their creation lies in the design, since not all of us are capable of designing the different objects. As a result, design repositories and indexes have emerged on the Internet, from which the user can download models.

LAWYOU’s lawyers highlight the problems created by this idea because, although most of the uses are to manufacture common objects, there have been cases of users who have been able to print a firearm in pieces. This creates a whole new regulatory area to regulate and full of future legal consequences.

What does this mean for the law?

It is quite foreseeable that in a few years the vast majority of citizens will have a 3D printer at home, which will mean millions of users creating products. However, what worries LAWYOU experts is not the creation of the products, but whose design it is. This issue has a direct impact on intellectual property rights and patents.

Firstly, LAWYOU’s lawyers determine that there may be problems in relation to intellectual property and illegal downloading of models. This is because, if a user creates a 3D model, as an author he has rights over it, and therefore could demand a small royalty for private copying or share it freely, as he chooses.

On the other hand, in the case that figures of natural persons are made as in the Japan 3D photo booth, we find ourselves with the image rights of that particular individual. In this case, the express consent of the natural person whose print is made will be needed, which can present conflicting situations with respect to celebrities such as footballers, singers, actors…

Finally, the enormous challenge that will be posed by cases in which illicit content is printed. The legislator will have to be especially severe with those who share or print models of, for example, firearms.

In view of the above, LAWYOU’s lawyers highlight the horizon of new regulations presented by 3D printers. That, in turn, can mean a new industrial revolution or the death of industrial property rights and patents.

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