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Inventing the Future: Intellectual Property and 3D Printing
Edward Elgar Blog (2012)
  • Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law
A new technology – 3D printing – has the potential to make radical changes to aspects of the way in which we live. Put simply, it allows people to download designs and turn them into physical objects by laying down successive layers of material. Replacements or parts for household objects such as toys, utensils and gadgets could become available at the press of a button. With this innovation, however, comes the need to consider impacts on a wide range of forms of intellectual property. 3D Printing is the latest in a long line of disruptive technologies – including photocopiers, cassette recorders, MP3 players, personal computers, peer to peer networks, and wikis – which have challenged intellectual property laws, policies, practices, and norms. As The Economist has observed, ‘Tinkerers with machines that turn binary digits into molecules are pioneering a whole new way of making things—one that could well rewrite the rules of manufacturing in much the same way as the PC trashed the traditional world of computing.’
  • 3D Printing,
  • Copyright Law,
  • Patent Law,
  • Designs Law,
  • Trade Mark Law,
  • Disruptive Technologies.
Publication Date
October 19, 2012
Citation Information
Matthew Rimmer, 'Inventing the Future: Intellectual Property and 3D Printing', Edward Elgar Blog, 19 October 2012,