102 Geo. L.J. 1691 (2013-2014)
Patents, Meet Napster: 3D Printing and the Digitization of Things

handle is hein.journals/glj102 and id is 1747 raw text is: ARTICLES
Patents, Meet Napster: 3D Printing and the
Digitization of Things
Digitization has reached things. This shift promises to alter the business and
legal landscape for a range of industries. Digitization has already disrupted
copyright-based industries and laws. As cost barriers fell, individuals engaged
with copyrighted work as never before. Business-to-business and business-to-
consumer models of industrial copyright faltered and, in some cases, failed.
Industries were forced to reorganize, and the foundations of copyright were
reexamined. This Article assesses a prime example of the next phase of digitiza-
tion: 3D printing and its implications for intellectual property law and practice.
3D printing is a general-purpose technology that will do for physical objects
what MP3 files did for music. The core patent bargain-sharing how to make
something in exchange for exclusivity-may be meaningless in a world of
digitized things. While 3D printers will unleash the creativity of producers and
reduce costs for consumers, they will also make it far easier to infringe patents,
copyrights, and trade dress. This will compel firms to rethink their business
practices and courts to reconsider not only patent law but also long-established
doctrine in areas ranging from copyright merger to trademark post-sale confu-
sion. Moreover Congress will need to consider establishing some sort of
infringement exemption for 3D printing in the home and expanding the notice-
and-takedown rules of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to websites that
host software enabling 3D printing of patented items and distinctive trade dress.
While a 3D printer is not yet a common household item, the time to start
thinking about that future is now.
* Associate Professor of Law and Ethics, Georgia Institute of Technology, Scheller College of
** Samuel R. Rosen Professor, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. @ 2014,
Deven R. Desai and Gerard N. Magliocca. Professor Desai was an associate professor of law at Thomas
Jefferson School of Law when this Article began and thanks the School for its support. In addition, the
authors would like to thank William Byrd and Mark French for explaining the physics of 3D printing
and Katie Rast for her guidance about the way 3D printers and the Maker movement are changing
manufacturing practices. We also thank Lydia Loren for her insights and feedback. The work has
benefitted from attendees' comments at the Lewis and Clark Faculty Colloquium, Microsoft Research
Center, Cambridge's speaker series, Stanford Law School's Design Patents in the Modem World
conference, Works in Progress IP at Seton Hall, and American Law Institute's Young Scholars Medal
Conference on Copyright and Patent Law. Finally, we are grateful to the organizers of this Symposium
for inviting us to present our work.


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