Intellectual Property in 3D printing

3D printing technology has advanced significantly in a relatively short period of time, writes Maria Peyman, senior associate, Birketts LLP. The advances have resulted in it becoming more affordable, leading to an increase in the popularity of self-production.

Given the range of products that can be created through 3D printing any of the ‘traditional’ intellectual property (IP) rights may apply to a printed item. Patents could apply to a printed item as a whole, or component parts of the printed item.

Registered designs can protect the appearance of an item or parts of an item, whilst unregistered design rights apply to the shape and configuration of items and will equally apply to any copies.

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