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Excitement around 3D printing waned somewhat in 2014 from its meteoric rise in late 2013. Nonetheless, lawmakers and policymakers have been keeping an eye on this disruptive technology, leading to a UK Intellectual Property Office-commissioned report entitled A Legal and Empirical Study into the Intellectual Property Implications of 3D Printing, for which the executive summary was recently published.
The report is actually a wrapper for two separate studies. These were jointly carried out by the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management (CIPPM) at Bournemouth University and Econolyst Ltd, a consultancy specialising in 3D printing.
The first study comprised an analysis of how copyright law may be may be affected by the emergence of 3D scanning, and the creation and modification of digital design files. Additionally, it reviewed file-sharing websites including MakerBot’s Thingiverse, Autodesk’s 123D and GrabCad which are dedicated to computer-aided design (CAD) to provide a view on the types of print products available, their price, popularity and usage licences.