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With 3D printing career opportunities expected to grow in coming years, what can be said of the intellectual property aspects behind 3D printing? In the legal world, that might look like an exciting prospect, because it means more lawyers specializing in the legalities of 3D printing. While others might bristle at the idea of more legal jobs being created, it's going to be necessary as 3D printing becomes more widespread.
Ultimately, the printing of objects that are protected by trademark or copyright could become a big issue down the road. But before that, legal careers could be made in battling patent infringements on 3D printers.
The Battle of 3D Printer Designs
Bloomberg Law points out that as more 3D printers are being made, patents are going to be filed for technologies and software that may collide with patents already existing. Already, some companies have picked up on certain 3D printing technologies that had their patents expire. It reminds you that many 3D printing concepts were invented already over three decades ago.
Becoming a patent lawyer now will likely get you ready for the patent war ahead. These lawsuits may even extend to crowd funding sites like Kickstarter that help get many 3D printers funded lately. And it could extend further to trade secret battles in protecting 3D printing technologies that supposedly stand alone.
The Legal Battle Over Printing Objects
You don't hear about patent, copyright, or trademark infringement cases yet in printing 3D objects. That's because 3D printers haven't gone into every home yet. Once they become ubiquitous, the biggest problem may come in the scanning of existing objects and printing them for a specific use. While private use may not violate any laws, copyright laws have specific laws about printing certain media items.
Another legal problem for new lawyers will be in incorporating existing designs into a created product that could violate a trademark. While this could be very challenging based on fair use laws, lawyers are going to be busy finding new legal ground in the world of 3D printing.
Other 3D Printing Legal Challenges for Lawyers
Some other left-field issues could arise as 3D printing becomes more sophisticated and we start printing objects in our homes. Bloomberg Law above notes that anti-trust laws could be violated in some patent infringement battles. Particularly with overly common materials, some cases could be thrown out and give more limited protection to those holding patents.
Also, when we get to the point where we're printing out medications, the FDA may be stepping in to place more control on things. Already, some emergency drugs are being printed that aren't fully tested. This could lead to very extensive litigation down the road with the government and what rights people have in printing certain medications that can save someone's life.
As you can see, a legal career in 3D printing could be very lucrative (and overly busy) before the end of the decade.