3D Printing for Consumers: What Does it Mean for the Future of IP?
Patent filings relating to 3D printing have increased 23-fold over the last five years, and trademark filings for businesses involved in 3D printing have increased 300 percent over the same time. Obviously, there is great excitement over the promise of 3D printing, but there is also concern about how 3D printing could make it too easy to copy a patented product with a push of a button… Traditionally, it is more important to have patent claims that protect products, components of products, arrangements of products, etc. Future IP will weigh more heavily on ideas and designs, rather than methods, which will be increasingly become difficult to police. These files will serve as proof of an owners’ pre-established rights, and could prove to be a major profit-making source in the future. And while copyrights are susceptible to fair use claims in a way patents are not, copyrights last for an extremely long time (e.g., 70 years beyond the death of the author).