Enforcing Patent Law in the Era of 3D Printing
Ballardini, R. M., Norrgård, M., & Minssen, T. Enforcing Patent Law in the Era of 3D Printing. Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice, 10(11), 850-866. (2015) 10.1093/jiplp/jpv152
This article explores relevant laws and doctrines of patent infringement in Europe with a special emphasis on 3D printing (3DP) technologies. Considering the difficulties that patent owners might face in pursuing direct patent infringement actions in the rapidly evolving era of 3DP, we suggest that patent owners will most likely direct their efforts towards indirect patent infringement strategies.
Hence, our analysis concentrates on selected indirect patent infringement doctrines in order to (1) provide a detailed analysis of pan-European theories of indirect patent infringement and secondary liability, and (2) highlight the possible challenges and questions that 3DP might raise for traditional interpretations and applications of the indirect patent infringement test in Europe.
Realizing that much uncertainty remains within the 3DP area with no clear indications on how patent infringements will be addressed by national courts or the EU Unified Patent Court, we argue that EU courts should attempt to align their approaches and to follow same lines of interpretation. As this is a global issue, we further conclude that all European stakeholders and courts should closely monitor the developments in other jurisdictions, such as the US which is currently the leader in 3DP technology.
We further sustain that the sooner right holders will begin strategizing on how to approach business and legal issues in the 3DP context, the less their business models will be shaken up by this technological disruption. Moreover, although the internet platforms and CAD files repositories will play a major role in the development and spreading of the 3DP technology, they will likely to be at the center of major law disputes unless they carefully consider the scope of their activities (host and/or customize and/or print) in light of IP law.