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Legal implications of 3D Printing

Legal implications of 3D Printing

Law should enable the next generation of manufacturing and not get in the way. This will require innovation from the legal profession to develop the legal frame works to support a more connected and distributed form of manufacture.

One of the innovative aspects of the Supply Chains in Practice (SCIP) industrial forum I lead at WMG, is the way that we bring together different organisations that have an interest in supply chains from different perspectives. One of the very positive relationships we have developed is with the innovative law firm Pinsent Masons. We share a common belief that the law should enable next generation supply chains, and not hinder them. To do this we need to consider the legal implications from the start, and not at the end.

In the video, Cerys Wyn Davies (a Partner at Pinsent Masons) explored the way that the law will need to adapt to fit in with the way that technology (in this case 3D printing) presents itself. As you heard, intellectual property is not just about patents, but includes copyright, design rights and trade-marks too. Protection occurs at different stages in the value chain too, from the CAD file to the finished product, including any designs printed on the surface. The mine-field deepens as we consider liability. Cerys uses a simple example of bicycle helmet to identify some of the different stakeholder who may be responsible in the event of a product failure, and raises the all-important question about who and how will ‘trace’ the root cause of the issue. Forewarned, is forearmed and such concerns should not hinder the use of such technology, if appropriate mitigating steps can be taken (e.g. disclaimers, insurance etc.).

The future is likely to be much more distributed and ‘connected’. This has the potential to deliver innovative new business models, if time is taken up front to work equally as innovatively on the legal side, to develop new contractual approaches to support them.

If you are interested in hearing more from Cerys on the legal implications of 3D printing, please watch Cerys’ full presentation to the WMG Supply Chains in Practice event on YouTube: Legal implications of 3D Printing (13:24)
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