3D printing surfaces interesting legal issues

3D printing surfaces interesting legal issues

Summary: 3D printing looks set to take off in Singapore, but the cool technology throws up legal questions around product liability and copyright.

TOPICS: Printers, Legal

The tech flavor of the month is how 3D printing is poised to take off in Singapore.

Spurred on by the early success of Pirate3D's affordable Buccaneer 3D printers and an announcement that the Singapore government will invest US$500 million in 3D printing advanced manufacturing technologies, the technology has certainly become the talk of the town.

One of my favorite cases from intellectual property lawbooks is one which allowed the "right to repair" of exhaust systems on vehicles, where the court ruled in favor of vehicle owners who bought parts from competing manufacturers when their original exhausts broke down. The problem here is that this is an old English case, which is still applicable to Singapore but in England, the case has been superseded by European directives that have narrowed this right of repair.

3D printing can allow someone to print a replacement part, but the question is whether the user will get into legal trouble by doing so. 

Then, there is also the liability of the 3D printer manufacturer to be considered. Will the manufacturer be considered like Sony Betamax, which made video recorders that could be used for legitimate as well as illegal purposes and defensible "time-shifting" uses? Or will it be ruled like Napster, which was found liable for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement even though the actual copying was done by its users.

As usual, lawyers are going to have a field day.

Topics: Printers, Legal

Bryan Tan

About Bryan Tan

Bryan is Pinsent Masons's technology media and telecommunications partner in Singapore and has practised since 1997. He advises on contracting and risk management in the areas of information systems and telecommunications, including intellectual property, data data privacy, e-commerce, cloud computing, and sourcing. He also has advised 10 different governments on e-commerce law.

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  • Patent issues

    Not copyright.
  • A patent only applies to commercial applications

    not personal use of an invention!
    You can build any patented device for your own personal use, but a patent protects the patent holder from you profiting from it by selling or renting it!
    A copyright does not prevent you from physically writing down the works of another for your personal reference (or even video taping a tv screen or monitor)!
    Just don't sell the copy!
    • Still copyright infringement

      Ummm, that's pretty much exactly what copyright does prevent.

      I can borrow a book from the library and read it. But I can't make a personal copy to keep, either by photocopying, scanning, writing out in longhand, or downloading from a torrent. All four are equally copyright infringement - whether I sell the copy or not is irrelevant.
      • You're wrong Sleepy Bob...and it's more complicated than that kd5...

        Books, you can buy and copy for personal use; you can not borrow it from a library, friend, or relative and do the same thing. You can make a copy of your software\games in case the CD gets scratched. But you can not circumvent the copy-protection or fake a key to make it work...So sometimes doing so is useless. You can tape a show or record it to a DVD in almost all cases; you can't however show it to others (although this is hard to enforce)
  • Old news but nice to see it crop up again

    Not that anything will be done, of course...
  • Brilliant post

    Genuinely good thanks, I do believe your trusty audience would probably want a great deal more blog posts of this nature maintain the good hard work.
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    3D printing details are the ones that are prime and supreme for me nowadays, as I am looking for one of those.

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