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3D printing and the intellectual property system

Author

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  • Stefan Bechtold

    (ETH Zurich)

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) printing – or “additive manufacturing” – technologies differ from traditional molding and casting manufacturing processes in that they build 3D objects by successively creating layers of material on top of each other. Rooted in manufacturing research of the 1980s, 3D printing has evolved into a broad set of technologies that could fundamentally alter production processes in a wide set of technology areas. This report investigates, from the perspective of an intellectual property scholar, how 3D printing technology has developed over the last few decades, how intellectual property rights have shaped this breakthrough innovation and how 3D printing technologies could challenge the intellectual property rights system in the future. As in other areas of innovation policy, the role of the intellectual property system in fostering innovation in 3D printing technologies is a complex one. It played a beneficial role in some instances (sometimes intended and sometimes unintended), and it may have played a neutral or detrimental role in other instances. Studying the progress of 3D printing technologies thereby also informs us about the intricate relationship between intellectual property and innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefan Bechtold, 2015. "3D printing and the intellectual property system," WIPO Economic Research Working Papers 28, World Intellectual Property Organization - Economics and Statistics Division.
  • Handle: RePEc:wip:wpaper:28
    as

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    File URL: http://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_econstat_wp_28.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Lerner, Josh & Tirole, Jean, 2002. "Some Simple Economics of Open," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 197-234, June.
    2. William Landes & Douglas Lichtman, 2003. "Indirect Liability for Copyright Infringement: Napster and Beyond," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(2), pages 113-124, Spring.
    3. Ashish Arora & Robert P. Merges, 2004. "Specialized supply firms, property rights and firm boundaries," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 13(3), pages 451-475, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Innovation; 3D printing; intellectual property.;

    JEL classification:

    • K29 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law - - - Other
    • L60 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - General
    • O30 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - General
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D
    • O34 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Intellectual Property and Intellectual Capital
    • O38 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Government Policy

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