3D printer in actionIn Part 1, we addressed the pros and cons of molding your mark directly into your goods in the context of 3D printing. In Part 2 of this series, we evaluated potential benefits and pitfalls that businesses may encounter when applying a mark to products at a later stage in manufacturing (e.g., via sticker or ink-printing). Here, we will look at two counterfeiting scenarios: Case 1, in which your mark has been molded or 3D printed into your product, and Case 2, in which your mark is ink-printed on your product.

In both scenarios, you have no utility patents, design patents, trade dress, or copyrights with which to protect your product. Of course, this addresses a particularly limited situation. However, a great number of businesses find themselves in a similar position. Not all products can be patented. Not all products are proper subjects for trade dress or copyright protection.

In both cases, along comes a so-called “counterfeiter” who obtains a specimen of your product, scans it with a 3D scanner, and starts making copies. In Case 1, the 3D scanner acquires a scan of your mark on your product. The copies made by the counterfeiter in Case 1 therefore also include your mark, leading to clear-cut trademark infringement. However, in Case2, the mark is not detected by the 3D scanner, and is therefore not included on the copies.


Continue Reading 3D Printing & Trademark Counterfeiting Part 3: Break the Mold or Erase the Ink?

3d printer with bright green filamentIn Part 1 of this series, we addressed the impact of 3D printing on companies that mold their marks directly into their goods. Now, in Part 2, we will evaluate potential benefits and pitfalls that businesses may encounter when applying a mark to products at a later stage in manufacturing (e.g., via sticker or ink-printing).

Many companies decide not to mold or 3D print their marks directly into their product. Such a decision may be based on a cost analysis, or on the desire to remain agile in the marketplace. As discussed previously, such costs may fall drastically while agility will greatly improve as 3D printing becomes more widespread. Even so, many companies are simply unable to mold or 3D print their marks directly into their products. The product may be too small to directly bear a trademark at all, or may not have an externally visible surface to serve as a suitable location to display a mark.


Continue Reading 3D Printing & Trademark Counterfeiting Part 2: Break the Mold or Erase the Ink?

smaller version3D printer blue 000034574932In a previous series of posts, we explored several copyright issues as they apply to 3D printing. In this series, we will address the impact of 3D printing on trademark infringement by counterfeiting. Here, we will address the pros and cons of molding your mark directly into your goods in the context of 3D printing and counterfeiting.

In Part 2 of this series, we will evaluate potential benefits and pitfalls that businesses may encounter when applying a mark to products at a later stage in manufacturing (e.g., via sticker or ink-printing).

In Part 3, we will look at some hypothetical “counterfeiting” and trademark enforcement situations, and discuss the impact of 3D printing your mark into your product as compared to ink-printing.
Continue Reading 3D Printing & Trademark Counterfeiting Part 1: Break the Mold or Erase the Ink?

Husch Blackwell attorneys Sam Digirolamo and Brandan Mueller are presenting at the upcoming Inside 3D Printing Conference, April 15-17 in New York City. The firm is a corporate member of the 3D Printing Association.memberof-3dprintingassociation-logo-330-x-79- (1)

The 5 D’s of 3D – Learn to Dodge, Duck, Dip, Dive and Decide How to Succeed in a Complex

smaller version3D printer blue 000034574932Additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3D printing (3DP), offers exciting possibilities that will impact any number of industries. In the legal field, much of the focus remains on product liability and intellectual property issues, such as patent and copyright law. However, as with any new technology, many of the rules affecting the 3DP industry will be decided in Congress and administrative agencies rather than in courtrooms.

As yet, 3DP remains largely unregulated absent a few exceptions such as firearms. As the technology becomes more mainstream, however, manufacturers and users of 3DP would be foolish to assume the trend will continue. Adding to the potential complexity is that a technology capable of creating anything from body parts to food to automobiles is likely to come under the jurisdiction of a large number of Congressional committees and administrative agencies. Additionally, the IP issues that many lawyers within the industry focus on could just as easily be decided within Congress as within the courts.


Continue Reading Congressional and Agency Impact on the 3D Printing Industry

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we discussed copyright issues for 3D printers. Not all companies have made the decision to jump into the world of 3D printing. Parts 1 and 2 may not have applied to you at all. However, no matter your business, your company may have to deal with a third party printing your company’s product, in violation of your rights.

If a direct competitor has begun printing a product which is clearly in violation of your copyright, enforcement is relatively straight forward. However, the scary (and revolutionary) thing about 3D printers is that anyone can print your product from the comfort of their easy chair. Infringers are no longer restricted to the few businesses that can afford to ramp up large-scale production. How do you handle enforcement if the infringer is a relatively small time start-up? What if the infringer is a fan of your product?


Continue Reading 3D Printing Part 3 – Enforcement of Copyrights Against 3D Printers

At a high level, creating a 3D printed product involves several steps. First, the product itself is conceived. Next, the product is designed in a computer aided design program, and must be converted into a set of electronic instructions that tell the 3D printer how to create the product. In some instances, the CAD program itself may create the printer instructions. The last step is the actual printing of the product. Not all businesses can employ in-house designers and technical personnel who are capable of engineering a product and/or creating printing instructions for that product. For those that can, it may still be more economical to hire outside help from time to time.
Continue Reading 3D Printing Part 2 – The Dangers of Third Party Designers

In this three-part series, we will discuss various copyright issues that may arise from 3D printing. The first two posts in the series will address copyright issues for companies that are just beginning to utilize (or are thinking about utilizing) 3D printing. The final post in this series, however, will address a company’s reactions to other 3D printers who create potentially infringing products. In this post specifically, we will address some basic copyright pitfalls of 3D printers.

Copyright laws, of course, protect artistic works by guaranteeing their authors the right to control how those works are reproduced, distributed, modified, etc. Many types of works in the visual arts may be fodder for copyright infringement by 3D printers; sculptural works are the most likely candidates. Using a 3D printer to recreate a copyrighted work or a derivative of a copyrighted work is likely to be textbook copyright infringement. 3D printing has not created many new copyright infringement issues, but has instead allowed for such infringements to occur much more easily.
Continue Reading 3D Printing Part 1 – So You Want To Start 3D Printing? A Copyright Perspective