Additive manufacturing has emerged as a transformative technology that will play a significant role in the future. Also broadly known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing creates 3D objects by incrementally adding successive layers of materials. Whereas traditional manufacturing requires materials and customized components, molds and machinery, additive manufacturing merely requires materials and a 3D printer. Without the need for expensive customization, the entrance barriers for additive manufacturing are drastically lower than those for conventional manufacturing; overhead and maintenance costs are reduced, allowing for smaller, flexible and competitive business models. The decentralized market for production is also a decentralized market for piracy. In traditional manufacturing, the copying of a design can be readily traced to a source because an infringer would require an infrastructure for fabrication and a marketing platform for sales. However, in the decentralized additive manufacturing environment, there is neither a need for a specific infrastructure nor a marketing platform. This chapter focuses on legal solutions available to intellectual property owners in the United States for blueprints, objects and processes used in additive manufacturing. Also, it establishes a baseline for the current federal protection environment and outlines the principal issues encountered in protecting intellectual property.
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- Legal Aspects of Protecting Intellectual Property in Additive Manufacturing
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