The Next Great Disruptive Technology Opportunity Or Threat? 3D Printing And The Future Of Complex Legal Challenges


October 2014 
By Thomas Dubuisson, LL.M [1]
@tdubuisson - tom.dubuisson@gmail.com

INTRODUCTION

As it is common with disruptive technologies, the advent of 3D printing brought with it a variety of legal challenges, including intellectual property concerns. In 2014, the 3D printing technology is not futuristic sci-fi anymore. Goldman Sachs, in a recent Global Investment Research report entitled The Search for Creative Destruction [2], included 3D printing in a list of seven technologies that are reshaping the way we live and are reinventing, the notion of what’s possible [3].

There is not a day anymore when you don’t hear about this technology. Examples are legion, such as: Philips announced a collection of new 3D-printed lamp line [4]”; NASA customized spacecraft and instrument parts using 3D printing [5], New Balance is introducing a track-specific running shoe that uses 3-D printing to create a plate on the sole of the shoe that is supposed to enhance performance with every step [6], Microsoft is extending its 3D modeling and printing application to the cloud, allowing users to create and print 3D objects [7], Nike 3D printed “concept cleat” for shuttle drill using SLS plate construction [8], etc.[9].

Recently, an American motor vehicle manufacturing company, Local Motors, just built the world's first 3D printed car, known as the Strati, in roughly 44 hours [10].

This article has two objectives. First, we quickly present how 3D printing works. Second, we discuss how 3D printing is raising new legal issues as it brings sophisticated manufacturing capabilities into the homes and offices of millions around the world and will become the next industrial revolution.

Subject: 3D printing, Intellectual property
Keywords: 3D printing; printing; intellectual property; additive manufacturing; fused deposition modeling; Stereolithography; Selective laser sintering; digital technology

I. HOW 3D PRINTING WORKS?

A. A new concept “additive manufacturing”

Let’s start with the basics: how can we define “3D printing”? Simply, it’s a machine that can turn a digital design (electronic blueprints) into a physical/solid object. In fact, the term “3D printing” is a catchy word for the limitless designs possibilities of 3D printed artifacts[11]. More technically, it refers to technologies that create objects through a sequential layering process called “additive manufacturing”. In other words, It is a “process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies”[12].

Just as a desktop printer is useless without word processing software in which to draft documents, or photo editing software in which to prepare photographs, a 3D printer requires appropriate control software. Commonly, this will be one of a number of commercial Computer Aided Design (CAD) or 3D modelling packages, such as AutoCAD, 3ds MAX, Lightwave, Maya, or the open source Blender. This software is used to create a computer representation of the object to be printed. Then, the object is passed to the 3D printer's controlling driver software which can calculate the various “slices” to be printed in order to create the model[13]. In other words, a 3D printer builds the object up from tiny bits of material, layer-by-layer, using only as much material as necessary for the intended purpose, and therefore prints the object already assembled (but it can also print individual parts or replacement parts). CADs software are widely used today by, among others, architects and designers to imagine physical objects before they are created in the real world (for instance, automobile designers use this software to see what a new car would look like without making a traditional model).

One can already see that the electronic distribution of CAD files (the sharing of digital designs with the rest of the world), like any other digital form such as movies, music, etc., may lead to a new wave of digital piracy[14], to the start of another “Napster revolution”[15]. It means that it will be just as hard as it is (was?) with other industries that have gone digital. In order to promote economic and social developments, particularly in relation to a new digital economy and technological innovation, intellectual property rights seem to be the appropriate rights to respond to this emerging technology. But online content will need serious checking to avoid massive infringements. However, as discussed in the second part of this article, intellectual property implications of 3D printing are far from clear.

B. Types of 3D printing techniques

3D printing includes several different types of technologies that are capable to do 3D printing. This also explains that this technology is not brand new. As demonstrated in the table[16] below, a large number of additive processes are now available. Simply put, the differences are how layers are built to create parts.


Type
Technologies
Materials
Extrusion
Fused deposition modeling (FDM)
Thermoplastics (e.g. PLA, ABS), HDPE, eutectic metals, edible materials, Rubber (Sugru), Modelling clay, Plasticine, RTV silicone, Porcelain, Metal clay (including Precious Metal Clay)
Wire
Electron Beam Freeform Fabrication (EBF)
Almost any metal alloy
Granular
Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS)
Almost any metal alloy
Electron beam melting (EBM)
Titanium alloys
Selective laser melting (SLM)
Titanium alloysCobalt Chrome alloysStainless SteelsAluminium
Selective heat sintering (SHS)
Thermoplastic powder
Selective laser sintering (SLS)
Thermoplasticsmetal powdersceramic powders
Powder bed and inkjet head 3D printing
Plaster-based 3D printing (PP)
Plaster
Laminated
Laminated object manufacturing(LOM)
Paper, metal foil, plastic film
Light polymerised
Stereolithography (SLA)
photopolymer
Digital Light Processing (DLP)
photopolymer


Among those patented technologies, three of the major used by manufacturing companies required a particular attention, namely: stereolithography (SLA), selective laser sintering (SLS), and fused deposition modelling (FDM).

1) Stereolithography (SLA)

It was Charles Hull, co-founder, executive vice president and chief technology officer of 3D Systems (a company specializing in 3D printers), who led the way for the launch of the first commercial 3D printer in 1988. It was made possible by a U.S. patent (US 4575330 A) granted on March 11, 1986 titled “Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography”. The invention was described as “A system for generating three-dimensional objects by creating a cross-sectional pattern of the object to be formed at a selected surface of a fluid medium capable of altering its physical state in response to appropriate synergistic stimulation by impinging radiation, particle bombardment or chemical reaction, successive adjacent laminae, representing corresponding successive adjacent cross-sections of the object, being automatically formed and integrated together to provide a step-wise laminar buildup of the desired object, whereby a three-dimensional object is formed and drawn from a substantially planar surface of the fluid medium during the forming process”[17].
3D printed furniture by Bram Geenen's Gaudi

This manufacturing method has led to the creation of various items in the medical field (3D printer-created lower jaw, artificial blood vessels); transport industry (bicycle known as the "Airbike", bicycle parts, aeroplane parts); food industry (3D chocolate printer); and the toy and hobby industry (3D printer-created connector kits for Lego, Duplo, K’Nex, Tinkertoys) to name a few[18].

More precisely, stereolithography is a “method of building three-dimensional models from liquid photosensitive polymers that solidify when exposed to ultraviolet light”[19]. More technically, as described in the patent, it “is a method and apparatus for making solid objects by successively "printing" thin layers of a curable material, e.g., a UV curable material, one on top of the other. A programmed movable spot beam of UV light shining on a surface or layer of UV curable liquid is used to form a solid cross-section of the object at the surface of the liquid. The object is then moved, in a programmed manner, away from the liquid surface by the thickness of one layer, and the next cross-section is then formed and adhered to the immediately preceding layer defining the object. This process is continued until the entire object is formed”[20].

2) Selective laser sintering (SLS)

SLS is a “technique that uses a laser to selectively fuse powdered materials into a solid object”[21]. More precisely, “SLS constitutes an improved form of stereolithography which uses a CO2 laser and powder instead of a UV laser and liquid photopolymers. The heat of the laser fuses the powder together. A wide variety of materials, such as glass, carbon fibers or stainless steel, can be used in SLS. While the technology produces very strong objects, their accuracy is currently not as precise as with 3D inkjet printing. The heating up and cooling down processes involved are also relatively time-consuming”.[22]

Nike Vapor Laser talon cleat
As mentioned in the introduction, a great example of this technique is the Nike Vapor Laser Talon with a revolutionary 3D printed plate of the cleat, crafted using SLS. It would have normally taken Nike 2 or 3 years to accomplish this, but with the 3D printing tech, it only took 6 months. The next “key 3D printing patents set to expire in 2014” (as it recently was referenced all over the Internet) are those related to selective laser sintering (SLS). This should be another boom in this area.

3) Fused deposition modelling (FDM)

FDM was first developed by Scott Crump, co-founder of Stratasys (a manufacturer of 3D printers and 3D production systems) in the late 1980s. “(…) Rather than using powdered material, FDM involves two cartridges loaded with coiled plastic filaments or metal wire. The filament or wire is heated and then applied through a print head with two nozzles. The first of these prints the object itself while the second prints the support material, which is required for stabilization purposes during the printing process but can be removed once the model has been built. Owing to its relatively low cost, its ability to produce thin parts very quickly and the relatively compact size of FDM apparatus, FDM is particularly popular for rapid prototyping. However, as existing FDM printers can still leave seam lines between layers, FDM is currently less suited for producing finished goods”[23]

FDM sample 
How FDM works? 3D printers that run on FDM technology "build parts layer-by-layer from the bottom up by heating and extruding thermoplastic filament" (http://www.stratasys.com/3d-printers/technologies/fdm-technology (last visited September 15, 2014). The process can be divided in three parts: (1) pre-processing: Build-preparation software slices and positions a 3D CAD file and calculates a path to extrude thermoplastic and any necessary support material; (2) Production: The 3D printer heats the thermoplastic to a semi-liquid state and deposits it in ultra-fine beads along the extrusion path. Where support or buffering is needed, the 3D printer deposits a removable material that acts as scaffolding; and finally the post-processing: The user breaks away support material away or dissolves it in detergent and water, and the part is ready to use ((http://www.stratasys.com/3d-printers/technologies/fdm-technology (last visited September 15, 2014). 

As of today, the first FDM patent has expired (in 2009) creating a large open-source development community of this type of 3D printer. This FDM technique was patented in 1989 by Scott Crump. 

II. A NEW INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION

This disruptive technology is about to change the way we think about general things, objects, clothing’s, food, and even body parts leading to a new world where fabrication possibilities will definitely explode. 3D printing opens the door for rapid innovation but also for some interesting legal issues. It is not a coincidence if big tech companies are working on it too. For instance: Google's Project Ara[24], the block-styled (modular) smartphone (with the first fully functional models supposed to hit in early 2015), is only possible because of the development of high speed 3D printing; Google's Project Tango[25] which will let you 3D scan your surroundings; Apple's newly acquired PrimeSense, an Israeli-based pioneer in 3D sensor technology, etc. PrimeSense devices “allow the Microsoft Kinect for XBox 360 to understand what is going on in the living room. Its sensors are so good they can actually see the heartbeat of game players, thus understanding how much a player is enjoying a game or not”[26]. Last year, US Patent and Trademark Office revealed Microsoft's patent pending invention related to a 3D printer and a computing device[27].

Are we all gonna have such a printer in our house tomorrow? Probably not. In a very near future, that’s for sure. With the expiration of patents, these printers become cheaper and faster and more and more people will be able to print 3D objects in the same way they might print a document today.


A. Legal consequences

The beauty of this technology is that it’s both a manufacturing and a digital technology. Consequently, it makes the unauthorized copying of objects easier too (like the music industry experienced it in the past). Back in January 2012, The Pirate Bay, known as the world’s largest facilitators of illegal downloading, “announced what it is calling the "next step" for the sharing society - a category called "physibles" where people can share schematics for 3D-printable objects. According to The Pirate Bay, the next step in "copying" will be making physical objects from digital files”[28]. The fight over copying physical objects may definitely be the next digital war.

As explained before, a designer uses the CAD software to create the model before impression. It allows him to manipulate the design as he wants and, for instance, producing multiple copies or sharing it via the Internet. This file can be 3D printed, or scanned into the computer using a 3D scanner and shared time and again. If it’s your own creation, there is no need to worry; but what if a designer copies the famous shape of the Coca-Cola bottle[29]? There is not much jurisprudence to say how these intellectual property (IP) rights will apply, but we can at least have an overview of the main possibilities and future issues.

The main four classes of intellectual property rights (copyright law, patent law, design law and trademark law) will be divided in two parts: firstly, a short definition of the right involved will be provided; secondly, a legal analysis, under UK Law, on potential infringing acts regarding 3D printing will be explained.

1) Copyright Law

Copyright is the intellectual property right of a copyright owner to prevent unauthorized productions of a work which is entitled to copyright (such as, books, musical compositions, films, etc.). It protects the author in his intellectual and personal relationship to his work and the use of the work. Copyright gives a bundle of rights to the rights owners to prevent people from copying, using or exploitation their works. This protection comes into existence automatically when the relevant work is created (fixed in a tangible medium of expression) and is original[30]. An object may be protected by copyright (e.g. sculptures) where it can be classed as an “artistic work”, but not for functional objects (however, it may be possible to rely on copyright in the object’s surface design to prevent copying).

What are the potential infringing acts regarding 3D printing? Copying a protected work (without a license) and providing copies to the public are acts restricted to the copyright owner. The category of copyright that is most relevant to 3D printing is that of artistic copyright. An artistic work, as defined, for instance, by the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) 1988, can include "a graphic work, photograph, sculpture or collage, irrespective of artistic quality …. or a work of artistic craftsmanship"[31]. A sculpture is defined as including a "cast or model made for purposes of sculpture"[32], while “work of artistic craftsmanship" is not defined. Therefore, a consumer who copies an artistic work by 3D printing a replica will be liable for copyright infringement (unless the consumer has permission from the copyright owner). This includes copying the design document (CAD file) without authorization and the making of a 3D copy of a 2D object and vice versa.[33] But, as mentioned, printing 3D useful objects will not infringe on anyone’s copyright.

2) Patent law

Patents[34] are granted for inventions, to many useful articles that are beyond the scope of copyright. A patent is the grant of exclusive rights by the state (government office) for an invention. In other words, an invention is the subject matter of a patent.

What are the potential infringing acts regarding 3D printing? Given that patent protection is (only) relevant to technology at the frontiers of knowledge, technological devices, techniques or achievements that employ the most current and high-level IT developments, it might seem unlikely that anything you could 3D print out would be likely to infringe upon a patent. However, there remain a number of patents that protect “simply” everyday objects (e.g. certain medical devices) or small parts of a bigger product. Therefore, an unauthorized commercial production of patented products may constitute an act of patent infringement by the user of the printer. 

What about 3D designs for printing 3D products made available on online platforms? In the UK, the second part of section 60(1)(a) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 which relates to "disposing of, offering to dispose of, or using the invention" concerns the commercialization of infringing copies of an invention, and must include, at least, selling. “Terrell interprets "dispose" as commercial sale or loan or proposals to do so. The argument which follows from the above point relates to s.60(2) of PA 1977. Section 60(2) deals with indirect infringement, which arises when someone facilitates a directly infringing act by supplying or offering to supply any of the means, relating to an essential element of the invention, for putting the invention into effect and with actual or constructive knowledge that those means are suitable for putting, and are intended to put, the invention into effect in the United Kingdom. One important point to note here is that patents are territorially limited and so infringement proceedings in the United Kingdom can only be brought with respect to activities within the United Kingdom”.

If we apply this section to 3D designs for printing 3D products, we can assume that supplying or offering a 3D file (a “mean”[35]) on online platform will infringe patent law.

Competitors may be able to use 3D printing technology to design around a narrow utility patent. Patent rights holders should become aware of this risk and look at ‘creative ways’ to draft well written patent claims that encompass future possible changes.

3) Trademark law

Trade marks are distinctive signs identifying and distinguishing the commercial source of goods or services. Such signs can consist of words, logos, names and colors, as well as any other means of identifying commercial origin such as the shape of the products (e.g. Coca-Cola bottle) and their packaging. The main requirement for the registration of a trademark in the European Union is that your name should be non-descriptive of the product of service concerned, and dissimilar to other names your competitors use. 

What are the potential infringing acts regarding 3D printing? There will be an infringement when a 3D printing service, in the course of trade, reproduces a company’s trading name, brand name or logo, on a printed object. Indeed, a commercial use (e.g. selling a product that includes a trademark) of a trademark without the consent of the trademark owner will infringe the trademark.

If it’s done privately (in your house for instance), it is unlikely that there will be an infringement (unless the private individual sells the items he has printed). Things can (will?) get complicated with online platforms where an individual can download and eventually sell the 3D products that someone else shared online, and therefore infringing the trade mark. A multitude of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) claims by various companies are likely to be brought allegedly in violation of the owners’ trademark as it is the case today with copyright infringement. A court could conclude that the online platform was aware of facts or circumstances from which infringing activity is apparent, red flag knowledge that precludes safe harbor protection from infringement suits. The distinction between the hosting-provider and the user-created 3D product file will also make things more complicated. If the uploader of the 3D file removes the trademark before uploading it on the online platform, it’s unlikely that the person who downloads it will be infringing the law. That could lead to an explosion of counterfeit or mislabeled products too.

4) Design rights

Because 3D printers can be used to make a reproduction of an object, design rights will be the most useful form of IP rights and becoming increasingly important. Generally speaking, a design consists of a shape, configuration and/or ornamentation; it must be applied to an article; the features of the design must be judged visually; and it doesn’t matter whether or not the design has aesthetic quality. But, to be valid, it must be new (no identical design has been made available to the public) or[36] original (individual character i.e. the overall impression it produces on the user differs from any design made available to the public before). Industrial designs can be either registered or unregistered but their term of protection is shorter.

What are the potential infringing acts regarding 3D printing? When an unauthorized third party makes a copy of the design (a commercial reproduction using 3D printings), there will be infringement. As it was the case with copyright law and Video Cassette Recorder (Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc, 464 U.S. 417 (1984)) if it’s done privately and for no commercial purposes (for your own personal use), there will be no infringement (unless the private individual sells the items he has printed). Concerning technical products such as spare parts (e.g. exhaust pipes for a car), they will not qualify for design protection because they are solely dictated by the product’s technical function. Therefore, 3D printing products which are purely functional (spare parts) will not infringe the law. However, many works that are entitled to design rights are, simultaneously, entitled to copyright or trademark protection and therefore can lead to infringement.

It must also be noted that “design features which allow ‘the multiple assembly or connection of mutually interchangeable products within a modular system’[37] — i.e. play-sets which invite users to construct different items, people and animals such as Lego, Playmobil, Warhammer for example—will qualify for registered design and 3D printing of such items will breach a registered design[38]. This is good news for toy/hobby manufacturers although not for users of 3D scanners or printers who can be held liable under RDA 1949 —unless it is carried out ‘privately and for purposes which are not commercial’”[39].

B. What about the future?

Artists may fear that their copyright protected sculptures will be replicated without permission. Toy companies will see their trademark and copyright violations in toys flowing from 3D printers. The new toaster or prosthetic arm may infringe on innumerable patents.

The recent developments are quite impressive and a positive sign that the market for 3D printing is expanding. For example, a Chinese company harnessed 3D-printing technology to build 10 one-story houses in a day[40], a special 3D-Printed Ketchup cap[41], scientists 3D Print a 'Tumor' of Cancer Cells[42], a 3D Printer for future tattoos[43], etc.
Very recently, Amazon (the online retail giant) is taking "on demand" to a new level with its first 3D printing product marketplace: the 3D Printing Store[44].

III. CONCLUSION

3D printing is a process of making a three-dimensional products and solid objects of virtually any shape from a digital model. It refers to various technologies that create objects through a sequential layering process called “additive manufacturing”. With the expiration of most of the 3D patents, mass-manufactured printers will be able to integrate these techniques and create affordable 3D printers. Unfortunately, as it is often the case with new disruptive technologies, it will also open the world of “hacker-maker printers” and its derivatives. That’s the reason why good legislation are needed.

Whether or not this technology will realize all the dreams it currently inspires, is still unpredictable (but it is going in the right direction). However, we do know that 3D printing will definitely disrupt all intellectual property legal forms. These laws will not be ignored or impossible to enforce[45], but legal evolutions are welcome. Even though it was a real nightmare for the music industry to fight against illegal music file-sharing sites (such as Napster and so on), new legal business models are flourishing (such as Spotify, iTunes, etc.) and make us believe that we learned from the past. Napster was shut down in 2001, since then, legislation and enforcement IP laws have also emerged and created a solid basis for future disruptive technologies. Hopefully, we will not repeat the same old mistakes and be prepared for the growth of 3D printing.



[1] Thomas Dubuisson is a lawyer passionate about the intersection of law, policy, and technology. LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/thomasdubuisson. Any mistakes in this article are my own.
[9] Several documentaries are also available. For instance, the 90-minute Netflix Original documentary Print the Legend, or the Avi Reichental, CEO of 3D Systems, TED talk.
[11] For another definition, see V. Braun and M. Taylor, "3D Printing" [2012] C.T.L.R. 54 (“a computer-driven manufacturing technology through which three-dimensional shapes and products can be created through the printing of successive layers of material”).
[12] Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman, Factory @ Home: The Emerging Economy of Personal Manufacturing (2010), available at https:// www.ida.org/stpi/occasionalpapers/papers/OP-5-2010-PersonalFabrication-v3.pdf.
[13]  DLA Piper, Clone Wars: 3D printing and Intellectual property, available at http://www.dlapiper.com/files/Uploads/Documents/Clone_Wars_3D_Printing.pdf (last visited August 2014).
[14] Michael Weinberg, Public Knowledge It Will Be Awesome If They Don't Screw It Up: 3D Printing, Intellectual Property, and the Fight Over the Next Great Disruptive Technology (2010), available at http://www.publicknowledge.org/files/docs/3DPrintingPaperPublicKnowledge.pdf at 3-4 (“One person can create a new object, email the design to his friend across the country, and the friend can print out an identical object.... [T]he ability to copy and replicate is the ability to infringe on copyright, patent, and trademark.”); Rob Cox & Robert Cyran, A Future Memo from Goldman, N.Y. Times, Dec. 29, 2011, at B2 (“[A]nything involving just a digital file and a readily available printer will encourage copying and piracy.”); Clive Thompson, Clive Thompson on 3D Printing's Legal Morass, WIRED (May 30, 2012, 1:43 PM), http://www.wired.com/design/2012/05/3-d-printing-patent-law/. (“[T]he longer-term danger here is that manufacturers will decide the laws aren't powerful enough. Once kids start merrily copying toys, manufacturers will push to hobble 3D printing with laws similar to the Stop Online Piracy Act.”).
[15] T. Dubuisson, “The Graduated Response Came, Saw, and Is Far From Being Defeated: Recent Developments in the European and American Landscapes” (August 12, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2377696
[17] U.S. Patent 4,575,330 (“Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography”), available at: http://www.google.com/patents/US4575330.
[18] Dr Dinusha Mendis, "The clone wars": episode 1 - the rise of 3D printing and its implications for intellectual property law - learning lessons from the past?, E.I.P.R. 2013, 35(3), 155-169, 2013. See also U.S. Patent No. 4,575,330 (filed Aug. 8, 1984) (claiming invention of the stereolithography process).
[19] Jennifer L. Case, “How the America Invents Act Hurts American Inventors and Weakens Incentives to innovate”, 82 UMKC L. Rev. 29, 2013.
[20] U.S. Patent 4,575,330 (“Apparatus for Production of Three-Dimensional Objects by Stereolithography”), available at: http://www.google.com/patents/US4575330
[21] Jennifer L. Case, “How the America Invents Act Hurts American Inventors and Weakens Incentives to innovate”, 82 UMKC L. Rev. 29, 2013.
[22] Viktor Braun & Mark Taylor, 3D Printing, C.T.L.R. 2012, 18(2), 54-55, 2012.
[23] Viktor Braun & Mark Taylor, 3D Printing, C.T.L.R. 2012, 18(2), 54-55, 2012.
[28] K. Scott, "The Pirate Bay adds ‘physibles’ 3D-printing category" (January 24, 2012), http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-01/24/pirate-bay-introduces-physibles and Dr Dinusha Mendis, "The clone wars": episode 1 - the rise of 3D printing and its implications for intellectual property law - learning lessons from the past?, E.I.P.R. 2013, 35(3), 155-169, 2013.
[29] In the United States, in 1915, “the Root Glass Company won a Coca-Cola Company contest for a bottle design that would be recognizable to everyone, even by touch in the dark. The first design patent on the “hobble skirt” contour bottle was granted on Dec. 25, 1923, to the bottle manufacturer (known as “the Christmas bottles”). The second design patent for the contour bottle was granted to the Coca-Cola Company on August 3, 1937, preventing imitation of the bottle for another 14 years. The bottle shape became so well known that it became synonymous with the Coca-Cola product. The Coca-Cola Company sought and obtained a federal trademark registration for its contour bottle shape on April 12, 1960, enabling the company to safeguard the bottle design indefinitely”. More info available at: http://www.uspto.gov/about/offices/ous/121205.pdf.
[30] Common-law jurisdictions (that follow English precedents) require a very low level of originality. In the U.S., at least some minimal degree of creativity is required. The civil-law has a stricter approach. The work must carry the personal stamp of the author.
[31] CDPA 1988 s.4(1).
[32] CDPA 1988 s.4(2).
[33] CDPA 1988 s.17(4).
[34] A patent is a document, issued, upon application, by a government office, which describes an invention and creates a legal situation in which the patented invention can normally only be exploited (manufactured, used, sold, imported) with the authorization of the owner of the patent. Invention means a solution to a specific problem in the field of technology. An invention may relate to a product or a process. The protection conferred by the patent is limited in time (generally 20 years).
[35] “3D printer, raw materials and a 3DPDF for a patented item together counts as a kit for making that item, on which basis the 3DPDF is the essential ‘means’ that the 3D printer user would require to infringe the patent, thus bringing supply of it within the scope of section 60(2)”, see S. Bradshaw, A. Bowyer and P. Haufe, "The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing (2010) 7(1) Script-ed 1, 27.
[36] Some laws require novelty and originality.
[37] Registered Design Act 1949 s.1C(3). Recital 11 in the Designs Regulation which incorporated the Designs Directive into UK law states that such designs "present a major marketing asset".
[38] Interlego vs. Tyco Industries [1989] A.C. 217 PC (Hong Kong). Lord Oliver stated (at 248): "Inevitably a designer who sets out to make a model brick is going to end up by producing a design in essence brick shaped … There is clearly scope in the instant case for the argument that what gives the Lego brick its individuality and the originality without which it would fall for want of novelty as a registrable design is the presence of features which serve only the functional purpose of enabling it to interlock effectively with the adjoining bricks above and below."
[39] Dr Dinusha Mendis, "The clone wars": episode 1 - the rise of 3D printing and its implications for intellectual property law - learning lessons from the past?, E.I.P.R. 2013, 35(3), 155-169, 2013; Registered Designs Act 1949 s.7A(2)(a).

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