Sample Computer Science Paper on Intellectual property of 3d printing

Intellectual property of 3d printing

Literature Review

In as much as there are a number of competing designs for 3 printers today, they work in a similar way. In the history of manufacturing, people have always applied three mechanisms in making solid objects. These are cutting shapes of the compact objects, addition of fragmentary material in building up figures, and creation of liquid or malleable material into the necessary shape then set. All the forming processes, however, are secondary, which implies that the moulds must first be cut from the primary process. Primarily, the pre-industrial examples of these methods are wood statuette, bricklaying and moulding a jelly.

From the onset of the industrial revolution, there have been a number of variations that have been created in a refining manner. Cutting and moulding, for instance, have received a number of modifications, resulting in refined lather and milling technology for cutting and forming machines. After the creation of a microcomputer in 1970s, the cost of numerically meticulous machines dropped, making organizations able to own lightweight ones, which are all cutting machines. The numerically controlled machines, however, suffered from an integral problem; they could not make automated shapes. Until the late 1970s, no attention had been given to another alternative to a primary manufacturing idea.

3D, also referred to as rapid prototyping industry, was onset in the late 1970s. The term rapid was attached due to the numerous actions that could be made easily and quickly by applying conventionally numerically controlled machines that were expensive and slow. The primary reason for 3D printing technology was to do away with the tool path calculation problems that characterized numerically controlled cutting machines. 3D made it possible to write a computer program and control a machine through a computer model to a required shape. Furthermore, 3D printing technology would manufacture more complex and intricate shapes as compared to the primary manufacturing technology.

Intellectual Property

Naturally, the resulting objects from a 3D printer are not the original work of the individual’sprinting own creativity. At times, the item might be downloaded from another person’s original design, and in other instances it can be a copy of an existing product. The most likely sources of the copies are the Internet and CAD plans like all files copied and distributed online. Therefore, copying an existing item will attract the attention of the original producers. This ends up disrupting the existing business models that manufactures turn to several forms of intellectual protection.Creation of original products have resulted in several conflicts and challenges in 3D printing objects and copyright laws (Curcio, 2014). There are four categories of intellectual property rights or IP rights that may be infringed by using the 3D IP printer. To understand the intellectual property of 3D printer, each category shall be discussed.

Design Protection

Design protection guards the general look of items, especially marketable products, which might not be protected by either the patent or copyright laws. Design safeguard applies fairly to simple objects, more multifaceted elements, and the total form of the most complex items. These are further divided into further categories.

Under registered design, The Registered Design Act of 1949 (amended) provides that upon registration of an item or product, the act guards its appearance wholly or partly resulting from such features such as line, color, shape, texture or its ornamentation where a product refers to an industrial or handicraft item.  There are however some restraints in the registered design on what may be registered that cause issues in relation to the 3D printing of spare parts of a given product. These include the component parts, designs dictated by technical foundation, and the must fit exceptions. The results of these exclusions cause many products of 3D printing to end up not being protected as registered designs. Numerous spare parts of the objects end up to be components that fall under the technical function or must fix exemptions. In addition, even if a spare evades these exemptions and is protected by a registered design, the protection is not considered infringed by its use in the repair of a complex product in the process of restoring its original shape. In the case of a listed design copied by means of a 3D printer that was done privately excluding any commercial purposes, it is not considered aviolation. Virtuously, private use of a 3D printer in creating items does not amount to infringement of a registered design so long as the objective intended has no commercial value.

Unregistered design right on the other hand, was introduced by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 aimed at determining irregularities in industrial design protection in the supply of third party items. The most affected items were car parts that had piled up the House of Lords in Leyland v Armstrong. The unregistered design right guards a kin to registered design by rising automatically as a copyright. Therefore, it only applies against the actual copying. It exists in the shape and configuration of an item without considering the surface decoration and the methodology of construction. Unregistered design privileges affect the 3D printers to produce copies of items that might subsist. In the application of the phrase subsist is that it is unregistered right that will be for the owner of the creative item design to declare unregistered design right.

Another category entails 3D printers and design protection. In summary, the exceptions of personal and private reproduction of listed designs and the omission of private use from the unregistered design right defense implies that domestic use of 3D printer will not infringe the registration of unregistered designs. It is evident that the rights provided by the unregistered design right do not address the needs of public but non- commercial uses, for instance, schools.


Copyright fundamentally attributes to all innovative creative works that are stable in a noticeable medium. They entail most aspects that are written, drawn or rather designed. However, copyright only protects the actual writing, drawing, design or an idea that expresses it. Connected computers in most cases are designed to reproduce items that are written or designed. This has led to many chaos between creators and the users in copywriting (Rich, 2013). The rise of 3D printing is a transformation of the copyright. In as much as there are different copyright implications for 3D printing, copyright laws applies to objects with purposes that are beyond their aesthetic values, which limits its significance (Dolinsky, 2014).

Copyright infringement, however, applies to the 3D printing in the same manner it is for other copyrighted materials. Copyright gives the owners of a given product a right to prevent other individuals from copying or using their creations. Copyright comes to existence in the application of objects that are copied using 3D printers that are purely deliberate and oriented. For instance, if an individual scans and prints an artistic sculpture work, will infringe the artistic copyright where the scan entails the copy.  Copyright infringement policies application to 3D printing gives the owner the aptitude to sue the patent infringement. This means that it is illegal for any person to replicate any copyrighted items in the 3D printing or alternative Computer Aided Devices files or nay software found online. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a body mandated to protect the copyright owners by taking down notices of their items that re disseminated online.


There are several disparities between patents and copyright. First, patent protection is not automatically granted. Ordinarily, writing a story is subject to be granted protection but this is not the case in the creation of an invention with regards to patent protection. For an item to be protected, the inventor must apply for patent invention at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). There are three requirements before any creation can be protected; it must be new, useful, and non-obvious. Furthermore, the application of the invention requires that the creator of the item disclose information that will allow others to practice the creation. Patent creation has a time limit that is shorter compared to the copyright protection.

In as much as patent protection is aimed at guarding few items in a limited time duration, their protection is normally complete. There are no exceptions whatsoever for an independent creation in the patent law. Once objects has been patented, all other copies irrespective of the knowledge of the copier or not, infringe the patent. The application of the 3D printer in reproduction of patent projects entails infringing on the patent. Patents have no fair use and no exceptional domestic or personal use. An example of patent infringement in the 3D infringement cases entails when a person creates a design for an infringing item and shares them online, which allows users to print or purchase them. This case bring about three different types of infringements: direct infringement, inducement infringement, and contributory infringement.


Trade Mark

Even though it is clustered under patent and trademark, trademark is a different intellectual property facet. Trademark is not entailed in any constitution as compared to latent and copyright. However, trademark was developed in protecting consumers to give them confidence that a product or item marked by the producer symbol was supported by the producers. Consequently, trademark was not intended to protect intellectual property but rather aimed at showing the need to protect the integrity of the mark. In the creation of exact copies of items and projects, trademark can still be implicated. In the creation of products from a 3D printer, the technology can produce copies or objects that comprise of the trademark, thus, the copy will interfere with the trademark. Nevertheless, the specificity of 3D printing can allow a person to duplicate an object or item without replicating the trademark. For instance, if an individual likes a given product and is okay with having the logo or trademark on it, he/she is allowed to go ahead and reproduce it in the 3D printing that will not amount to any violations of trademark law. A commercial trademark is therefore applied where commercial use of the symbol does not infringe it through customer’s indication that there is a link between the owners of the mark and the one using it.



Curcio, S. (2014). 3D Printing will pose a multifaceted challenge to our current Intellectual Property Laws. Gowling WLG July 1, 2014. Retrieved from:

Dolinsky, K. (2014). CAD’s Cradle: Untangling Copyrightability, Derivative Works, and Fair Use in 3D Printing. Washington and Lee Law Review, 71(1), 591-681. Retrieved from:

Rich, S. (2013). 3D printing technology will be an intellectual property nightmare. Inside Counsel September 26, 2013. Retrieved from: