Additive manufacturing (AM) involves creating products through layer-by-layer deposition of materials using a 3-D printer in accordance with a CAD file containing a design. However, the ubiquity of 3-D printers, and the ease by which CAD files can be transferred, creates several Intellectual Property challenges, such as:
a) products created by AM may not be protected by patents drafted with conventional manufacturing techniques in mind;
b) the ability to create AM products using only a 3-D printer creates potential for a large number of infringing parties;
c) 3-D printers can be geographically located close to points of sale of products, rendering conventional border detection methods ineffective;
d) designs can be easily changed using 3-D printers, and thus conventional ways of securing design protection may need to be re-thought.
A review of relevant patent laws globally, and recommendations to address these challenges, will be provided.