3D printing grew substantially in 2020 following the breakout of the COVID pandemic, but with concerns over who owns 3D printing copyright, some entrepreneurs and companies wish to know where they stand.

Last year, the need for urgent 3D printed equipment soared as hospitals and healthcare workers fought frantically to obtain PPE for employees and patients, components for ventilators and replacement or extra medical equipment. Businesses, universities, colleges and even schools pulled together to 3D print whatever equipment they could in order to help to meet the demand.

Whilst the urgency for items may have plateaued, 3D print innovators want greater clarity on how they can continue to print goods without infringing on 3D printing copyright.

IP legislation for 3D printing copyright

Under current 3D printing copyright legislation, IP law sets out to protect the originality of work and gives the creator’s right to prevent reproduction by others. Here are the facts:

  1. Many experts believe that the current UK IP laws can continue to offer protection to providers of 3D printing including their owners, authors, or inventors.
  2. There is exception to the law whereby ‘hoppyists’ can 3D print copywritten objects as long as they are only for private use.
  3. Fair-use is also allowed as an exception and will not incur an infringement on copyright. In the recent 12 months, fair-use has been especially applicable whereby phenomenal amounts of PPE for healthcare workers has been required because of the pandemic. Not all original companies who hold the patents to the copyright, have been able to meet the demand and so other companies have been allowed to 3D print their patented designs.
  4. Protecting 3D printing under current IP laws is still applicable if the owner has found that their work has been illegally copied for economic gain. Hardware and materials are patentable, but software is more difficult to patent. Software can only be patented if it demonstrates that it can improve an existing process or solve printing problems.

To find out more about protecting your 3D printing company or if you are embarking on a new startup 3D print business, please contact our team at Crendon insurance. We provide a confidential review to 3D printing companies to understand their level of innovation and support them in their growth. Our insurance protection includes 3D printing insurance, startup business insurance, intellectual property insurance, plus much more.

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