Academic journal article The Journal of High Technology Law

The Makings of an 'Individualized-Industrial' Revolution: Three-Dimensional Printing and Its Implications on Intellectual Property Law

Academic journal article The Journal of High Technology Law

The Makings of an 'Individualized-Industrial' Revolution: Three-Dimensional Printing and Its Implications on Intellectual Property Law

Article excerpt

Introduction

The Reality of Three Dimensional Printing

Every decade or so, a new innovation comes along that shuffles the cards as far as Intellectual Property law is concerned. Suffice it to mention: the printing press; home VCR; MP3; YouTube; P2P file sharing; and robust reverse engineering of medicines and machines. (2) Now a dramatic new 'shuffler' is upon us. (3) We are one foot in the door to the era of full 3D printing of physical items. (4)

3D Printing, or what is also referred to as "Additive Manufacturing", is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from (generally) a digital file. (5) In this process of creation, the object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. (6) Effectively, each of these layers is a single thin horizontal layer in a cross-section of the object being created. (7) 3D Printing is, basically, the reverse of slicing an object into thin horizontal slices. (8)

This research is comprised of two chapters. In the first chapter I highlight and consider the far reaching impact of this technology in three levels (or dimensions): the technological-industrial; the commercial-social; and the legal-regulative. This first chapter is intended to allude to the challenges looming ahead and to identify and explain their conceptual background. As such, this chapter is intended to creating the awareness of the looming three dimensional challenges that 3D printing brings forth vis-a-vis intellectual property protection and regulation. In the second chapter, I discuss a host of specific issues that need to be considered when approaching this new challenge. As such, this chapter, indeed the entire paper, opens the door for a broader research project that is intended to provide a comprehensive model for resolving the challenges that are identified therein. In this capacity, my present paper lays the groundwork for a broader research project which is intended to provide specifically trailered rules and procedures for dealing with the challenges posed by 3D Printing. All of this is done with a view that this amazing new technology (which is now upon us) has many benefits but also may entail many costs. Thus, the ultimate aim of my research is to seek after and explore the path towards the optimal balance wherein we can reap the benefits of this technology without paying too hefty a price (in all of the above-mentioned dimensions) for its use.

Chapter One

The Nature and Three Dimensional Impact of 3D Printing

What is printing? Well, simply stated it is a way to clone stuff. (9) Until now we have done it with words, images, and music. (10) In this regard, the process of replicated content that exists is part of our reality as we know it. (11) However, when printing becomes three dimensional; that is, when it allows the user to regenerate 3D objects, then the entire paradigm of printing, as we know it today, changes. (12) It is no longer about seeing the object; it is now about having it, possessing it and using it. (13) Now, we are faced with the reality, that the tools that have been set up to protect intellectual property are thrust into a new theater where the rules of engagement (for lack of a better term) are drastically different from what we have come to know thus far. (14)

In this chapter, I shall show why 3D printing has a three dimensional impact on the protection of intellectual property. The aim here is to create awareness to the scope of the challenge and to show why we are at the doorstep of a new Industrial Revolution, no less! But this revolution, indeed as the entire field is of a new nature, it is an 'Individualized' Industrial Revolution. It is one that empowers the individual to be the master of his choices. Crucially, this empowerment has costs that are detailed in this chapter.

1.1 The Technological-Industrial Impact of 3D Printing

As stated above, Three Dimensional Printing or what is also referred to as "Additive Manufacturing", is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from (generally) a digital file. …

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