Drawing on the results of a project completed for the European Commission, the talk will consider the IP implications arising from 3D printing and 3D scanning, with particular focus on copyright and cultural organisations. In doing so, the presentation will give an insight into the IP implications surrounding the 3D printing and scanning process, from the perspective of designing a CAD file to sharing, printing and distributing it.

In this context, the chapter will, first, consider the legal status of a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) file within the context of registered and unregistered design, before proceeding to consider the implications presented through infringement and possible exceptions available for users.

This chapter begins with an analysis of the protection of 3D models as artistic works. In doing so, the chapter draws a line through history, taking the reader on a journey from the Engravings Copyright Act 1735 to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Thereafter the chapter moves to a consideration of another component of the 3D printing process – the CAD design file, which acts as a ‘vessel’ to encapsulate a 3D model.

This chapter explores the challenges to intellectual property (IP) laws, particularly copyright law, as a result of 3D printing. This analysis is carried out from the perspective of the United Kingdom (UK) as well as European Union (EU) laws as relevant. As a starting point, the chapter provides an account of the protection of 3D models and in doing so, draws a line through history to charter the developments of artistic works.

Through the application of selected statutes and case law drawn from the United Kingdom (UK), this paper will explore the copyright status of three-dimensional design files and will particularly question whether they can be protected as literary and / or artistic works. In responding to this question, the paper highlighting gaps and challenges inherent in the law and adopts a ‘coherentist’ and ‘regulatory instrumentalist’ analysis in responding to the challenges and providing recommendations for the future.

Study I – which is the first of a two-part Study, considers the implications for intellectual property law, particularly copyright law, as a result of online sharing platforms dedicated to 3D printing. As such, this Study applies a legal and empirical analysis, to provide a clearer understanding of ‘how’ the sharing happens to provide an understanding of the ‘parameters’ for sharing, e.g. terms and conditions, rules, regulations that apply, together with restrictions and bounds that apply to user behaviour and file-sharing.

The Executive Summary reports the purpose, scope, methodology and key findings from two complementary studies on the intellectual property implications of 3D printing. The two Studies provide for an overarching empirical and legal analysis into the current position of 3D printing.

Drawing on UK and EU copyright laws and their application to 3D printing and CAD files, this paper will, first, question whether CAD files can be protected by copyright law before considering the copyright implications thrown up by the modification of CAD files as a result of scanning and the use of online tools.

The technology in its early stages has already raised questions pertaining to intellectual property (IP) implications. This paper considers the IP implications of 3D printing. In particular the paper considers the challenges to patent law, trademark law, copyright law and design law as a result of this emerging technology.