The history of IP protection has been a cat-and-mouse game between developments in technology and the fashioning of appropriate laws, which need to find a balance between protecting the rights of those who advance the technology, on the one hand, and the interests of the public in their use of these developments, on the other. One need only recall the invention of the printing press in Europe, which enabled printers to make mass copies of an author’s work for potentially wide distribution. From that time to the present, the legal challenge has been how to regulate copying and reproduction in a manner that serves the interests of all concerned.
The latest manifestation is the rise of 3D printing and the ever-expanding possibilities that it offers for enabling the making of customized three-dimensional objects. The question that arises is how IP laws will fit into the 3D printing world.
As will be seen, there are not yet any firm answers.