WHAT IS 3D PRINTING?
First started in 1987, 3-D Printing is also known as Additive Manufacturing in which layers after layers of material are created to create an object. This method helps in making precise and complex products with less wastage than traditional manufacturing. Many low cost and high performing 3D printers are available in the market which makes it very convenient to produce things. This makes it very easy to manufacture whatever anyone wants, opening a gateway to Black Market of such products. A variety of things ranging from fabrics to ceramic can be printed using this technology.
WHAT IS REQUIRED TO PRINT A 3D OBJECT?
To make a product using 3D printing only two things are required which is: an electronic prototype of the wanted product and a 3D printer. Electronic prototype can be obtained by two means; the first being obtaining or buying the electronic blueprint online and second being writing the programme by self.
While looking from a legal aspect there are two things that need to be protected as Intellectual Property: the CAD (Computer Aided Device) file, and the product itself.
The CAD file, which instruct a computer to print an object, can be protected under the Copy Right Act, 1957 under section 14 subsection (b) and (c) which says that definition of a Copyright includes any two dimensional depiction of a three dimensional work and vice versa when it is written originally by a user. The CAD files are a relevant piece of evidence when it comes to stopping someone from infringing the copyright.
However the CAD file which is developed after scanning an object in which case the CAD file will be an exact replica of the object. This becomes a problem when the consumers are given the freedom to produce articles of need at home.
Although the word CAD had design in it, it does not fall in the definition of Design of the Designs Act, 2000 as a single consumer who produces goods for himself won’t fall in the category of “industrial process’’. For example, jewellery as such is not patented but the design of jewellery by Tanishq Jewellers is, a consumer printing such jewellery will be infringing the Design. Therefore if the good is printed/produced for personal use there is no infringement, however when the good is printed for the purpose of selling, it becomes an infringement.
If the product in dispute is a Patent protected product, then a 3D printed replica of the same can be stopped from being distributed in a market. However if it is not Patented then there is in no law that protects the product from being illegally reproduced.
WILL IT MAKE COUNTERFEITING OF GOODS EASIER MANIFOLD?
The problem with 3D printing is that if a product which is copyright/ trade mark/ design protected is copied and printed through a 3D printer by a consumer for personal use there will no infringement of any of the copyright/ trade mark/ design. However if the same is done with the intention of selling the product or use it commercially, there will be an infringement.
This makes it very difficult to determine the right of the person holding a license of such product which is copyright/ trade mark/ design protected is violated or not since he will face damages and lose market even if consumer of his product(s) start producing his goods for personal use.
1. We need laws governing sale of 3D Printer to households, since it will disrupt the economy by making products available at low costs
2. The words ‘private use’ and ‘non-commercial personal use’ need to be replaced as they produce a grey area for reproduction of products and CAD files and will affect the revenue of the license-holders.
3. The term “industrial process” in the Designs Act needs to be removed or replaced or it will lead to opening up gateways to Black Market of 3D printed replicas.
3D printing as of date does not pose any threat to the economy, but however in the near future when this technique of production will get more efficient and cost effective it will be a potential threat to the economy because it will result in:
1. Mass unemployment, since it will be more precise is production,
2. Easy/availability of products since the products will be printable at home;
3. Huge rate of infringement of products, trademarks and designs as there is no law protecting the same.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Blog.