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How Digital Files on 3D Printing Websites have Legal Implications

By Staff Writter

How Digital Files on 3D Printing Websites have Legal Implications

Career Insight and Training

There is no doubt that the emerging technology of 3D printing is changing the world, not the least of which is its ability to bring the ability to manufacture things to the masses. There are a myriad of 3D printing websites that have digital designs of objects that one can download, modify, and then use. Indeed, according to a piece on Pocket Lint, one does not even have to have a 3D printer to access the technology. One can use any number of sites, such as Shapeways, i.Materialise, Sculpteo, or Ponoko to print up an object and have it delivered to ones doorstep.

However, according to Lexology the unregulated nature of 3D printing and the ease it provides to make almost anything has legal implications. The same technology that makes it easy to create things also makes it easy to commit patent infringement. All the money spent creating a new product, such as a medical device or a part for an engine, can be for naught if just anyone can create the same object in a home or office 3D printer. Companies that have patented products are now going to have to find ways to patent their digital designs as well.

More importantly, the government is going to have to revise patent law to make it easier to locate and take down infringing digital files. 3D printing is going to be a boon in so many ways, but it is also likely to be a headache for people who are eager to protect intellectual property.