Impervious claims make you win the Technology game.

As a matter of constant debate, it is often cited how traditional Intellectual Property laws and attorneys shall keep-up with the pace of the technical advancement and literal improvements. The recent evolution of 3D printing and its multifold capabilities have reverberated across all fields alike. Additive Manufacturing, commonly known as 3D-printing has revolutionized the manufacturing process with its disruptive advancement in domains like automotives, manufacturing, aerospace, pharmaceutical & healthcare, fashion, retail and sports, leaving aside the fabrication of a human tissue as we’ve already seen in endless episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Almost a decade back, a for “fused deposition modeling” had expired and inventors began to brain-storm around the periphery of the said invention. Kick starter introduced 3D printing and the hype built then has not witnessed a dip ever since. Tracing the developments from the past few years, the top-10 scoreboards leaders are from US and a few from Germany; these include General Electric, HP Inc. and United Technologies Corporation as the flag bearers.

Although, it has substantially pushed down the cost and issues of feasibility, it certainly has escalated the problem of potential infringements in the domain of intellectual property rights. holders often robe themselves with a rhino’s skin when they hear about how copyrights are infringed by piracy and flouting of , hoping to remain untouched by such technology capable of printing not just books but objects as well.

While brushing upon the issue of , its quintessential to note how there’s a depression in the IP system not catering to flouting of proprietor rights by deployment of such technologies under the existent framework. Considering a CAD file which lays the blueprint for printing an object, incorporates the article’s digital impression which could amount to of copyright as an unfair use of derivative works since it uses technical drawings and diagram models. Such issues cannot be ignored and requires requisite enhancement of the legal framework in the form of digital copyright infringements.  For better protection of these rights against unauthorized use, it would be wise to incorporate a “unique identifier” while generating CAD files to ensure that the end-user is identified before proceeding to access the file. Furthermore, to draw a parallel with landmark copyright case laws, would it not be correct to hold that proprietors of 3D printing technologies are capable of inducing future infringements? Napster and Groxter did not make infringing copies of sound labels but they most certainly aided its user in the process of generating pirated sound records. If the two were shut down on such premise, then why does the same not stand true here.

Another issue is the problem hovering around where a protected technology is facsimiled and an existing object is created using a different mechanism. This also amounts to , provided the fact that the object is protected. A non-patented feature of a patented object can be produced without attracting any objection. To cater to patent infringements facilitated by 3D printing, the provision with respect to indirect infringement can be strictly construed holding inappropriate use of such technology to be legally actionable. The only issue with this approach in the domain of is that to succeed in a case of alleged inducement of , it requires the Plaintiff to establish that the defendants had actual knowledge of the relevant which may be a challenging task. Therefore, one can easily dust their hands claiming that they were unaware of the existence of such and thereby escape liability. This is why we need a straight-jacket formula. It is pertinent to enforce a uniformly regulated system for proportional use of the said technology in the industry. In furtherance of this objective, it is important that the claims in future applications dealing with such kinds of technologies are tightly framed without leaving any potential pits that could be filled in by opportunist which would help in securing such rights in the favor of a handful with controlled administration (through , assignment, etc.). Therefore, lesser the owner of such technologies, greater is the chance to supervise.

Furthermore, the non-functional feature of the replicated object, i.e. the appearance of the same will attract claims of of the design. However, it goes without saying that non-commercial and private use of the said article although manufactured via 3D printing would not gather legal action. To what extent can such fabrication be mapped across the globe is the question where is costly and long-drawn. The number of welcoming issues in the domain is beyond count. To prove a point, consider where the 3D technology is used to print guns and ammunition. Is this not an ethical issue or a safety issue against public safety?

It is the unsaid duty of the government to safeguard the right of a holder in exchange of which it receives disclosure of a patented invention. In furtherance of this objective, the legislative wing of the government shall invite suggestions from the public as well as specialized reports from the government committees to ensure better execution and administration of laws to warrant that such an invention is not frivolously put to use. To end this on a conclusive note, I personally believe that the use of such dynamic technology shall be controlled and supervised since it can have polarized outcomes.



I want the Oompa-Loompa” screamed Veronica Salt, the greedy girl who landed in the walnut shell chute in the movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Man, evitable or inevitably so, is greedy and therefore, came the concept of privatization where fair and equitable distribution became unfeasible.

What is the tragedy of the commons and its anti-thesis, the tragedy of anti-commons?? To begin with, think of everyone having unlimited access to fuel and what could possibly happen? Obvious enough, it would lead to stocking-piling and over-utilization due to a huge appetite of some and lack of foresight of many for envisioning the sustainability of the commonly held resource. This is the tragedy of the commons as coined by Gareet Hardin[1], where while exposed to limited resources, each individual chiefly thinks of his own desires leading to overconsumption, as also held by Aristotle.[2] On the contrary, there is the issue of rigid privatization of rights over the limited resource where it could lead to possible under-utilization and prevent others from obtaining access. This is the tragedy of the anti-commons as coined by Michael Heller.[3] This metaphor, used for connoting economic principles has found application in law and as well.

The sequel of this problem can have catastrophic effects, especially, in the bio-technological or pharmaceutical field. To cite an example, a while ago, a scientist had invented a prospective treatment for Alzheimer’s but the same could not enter the market because of a dozens of underlying , each seeking to monopolize the invention. The drug eventually never saw daylight even though it could’ve saved a million lives and generated humongous revenue. This is the reason why the regime was incorporated in the international and domestic matrix to strike a perfect balance between monopolizing an inventor’s interest while at the same time securing the public good. This is why we need to think of a probable solution in the light of cosmopolitan technologies. Thomas Hazlett terms this as “tragedy of the telecoms” while referring to the like phenomena in relation  to the high-tech frontiers.[4] The similar concept is not just applicable for but also in the field of art, falling under the domain of Copyrights[5], where mix-ups, mash-ups and remixing different pieces of prior-owned resources are clubbed to create a collage work.

In the realm of , anti-commons usually exist due to stacking of and introducing fragmented technology. Generating fragments of a patented article and scattering ownership of each concurrent fragment could lead to acquiring a bundle of rights in order to enforce one single right. This would result in a very costly transaction which could have a profound impact on developing and making the product available at a rationale cost in the market. Therefore, an agreement to subsidize or rationalize royalties for potential or assignments over upstream technology to enable the introduction of a downstream technology at reasonable rates could propose to be a better idea. This could be facilitated by Reach Through Agreements (RTLAs) as an advantageous tool to both, the holder as well as the forthcoming researcher.

Therefore, to divert the loss arising out of the tragedy, improvement and modification of policy regulations or police advocacy, privatization and cooperative engagement are the broad solutions possible. As deduced above, privatization may not always result in desired outcomes, therefore to address policy concerns through strengthening anti-trust laws and cooperative management of resources appears to be a good option. However, in the light of prevailing circumstances, the state is apparently withdrawing from its civic role; policy regulation may or may not be the solution, widely depending upon the long-stretched implementation period. Therefore, the most viable solution is to enhance cooperative efforts and subdue heterogeneous interests for decreasing the transaction costs. This is where pools may come handy. E.g.: to make compliant to DVD ROM and DVD- Video, Sony, Philips, Pioneer, Toshiba Corporation, Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Time Warner Inc., and Victor Company of Japan, Ltd. all joined hands.[6] The kind of strategy deployed would largely depend upon the economic principles followed by a State and the adaptability to a newfound norm.


[2] Aristotle, The Politics and the Constitution of Athens (S. Everson (ed), B. Jowett (trans) Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996) 33

[3] Heller, Michael A (January 1998). “The tragedy of the ant commons: property in the transition from Marx to markets” (PDF). Harvard Law Review. 111 (3): 621–688. doi:10.2307/1342203. ISSN 0017-811X. JSTOR 1342203.

[4] T.W. Hazlett, ‘Spectrum Tragedies’(2005) 22 Yale Journal of Regulation 242; R. H. Ziedonis,‘Don’t Fence Me In: Fragmented Markets for Technology and the Strategies of Firms’ (2004) 50 Management 804

[5]F. Parisi and B. Depoorter, ‘Fair Use and Copyright Protection: A Price Theory Explanation’ (2003) 21 International Review of Law and Economics 453.

[6]  Clark, Jeanne, POOLS: A SOLUTION TO THE PROBLEM OF ACCESS IN ?, December 5, 2000