How 3D Printing Impacts Businesses Legally

The 3d food printerThree dimensional printing is undoubtedly the way forward when it comes to innovation, brand recognition, and speed. However, it’s not without its own legal concerns. One of the issues that is at the forefront of many businesses’ minds is the copyright issues associated with printing in 3D. These issues were addressed by a leading lawyer in the United Kingdom, Isabel Napper, as she commented on just what three dimensional printing means for businesses and how extra steps must be taken to ensure their compliance with copyright law.

Innovative Designs and Their Risks

Napper went on to comment about how the United Kingdom has a longstanding history of product innovation and design. However, as it stands, there’s no sensible regime that exists to protect intellectual property and copyright infringements are dealt with on a case by case basis in a court of law. Many times, it’s difficult or even impossible to establish copyright because the framework doesn’t exist to confirm when a product came into existence. Unlike the United States, it’s not possible to register a copyright legally as UK residents “assume” copyright protection as soon as something is created.

As a result of this, Napper expects three dimensional printing to create some issues when it comes to establishing copyright and proving when certain items were created. She compares this to the way the music industry suffered as a result of file sharing services, such as Bearshare. The issues are going to come along when existing files are uploaded that infringe on design rights. Patent rights are also likely to be violated, too.

Addressing Problems Early is the Solution

In her report, Napper doesn’t in any way disagree that three dimensional printing is the way forward when it comes to product innovation. However, the potential problems associated with it from a copyright front must be addressed before they become problematic. The goal should be to enable businesses to make use of the technology’s unlimited potential and contribute to their own growth, rather than to inhibit it altogether through cumbersome laws and regulations. 3D printers (visit if you’d like to see an overview of the printers out there) do indeed have unlimited potential. It’s just up to businesses to use this potential responsibly and in a way that doesn’t infringe on copyright laws, which is where the issue will lie for some time.

Should Printing in 3D Be Inhibited At Its Core?

The best 3D printers are unmatched when it comes to their innovative abilities. Does this mean this functionality should be crippled to make sure design laws are honored? Absolutely not. It is up to individual businesses themselves to enforce their own copyright laws and raise concerns where necessary. Technology can, of course, be abused, but this shouldn’t inhibit the free creation of items that are unbelievably useful and cost-effective in today’s economic climate. This new technology is opening up tremendous wealth of opportunity to our world as we know it, from printing a new cup if you break one in your kitchen to creating new ears from scratch through stem cell technology. The world should be thoroughly excited by what is happening within this new industry.