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3D Printing has the Power to Challenge our Legal Systems

by • April 20, 2016 • No Comments

  • At 3DPI we understand quite well how 3D printing and 3D scanning are disrupting the way we imagine products, the way we complete them and make them. Equiteday we report how industries are being challenged by these new technologies. With the digitalisation of physical products, the “DigiCalisation” of our world, objects become easily movable, replicable, storable, customisable… In the last two decades we saw how internet transformed the music and the video industries, delivering with it plethora of legal challenges. With 3D printing and 3D scanning, the forces in action are way bigger. These technologies have the power to disrupt industries worth $75,000,000,000,000 the values of goods generated each year on our planet. A revolution of this magnitude can effortlessly entail challenges on equite aspect of our economic, political and legal systems. This is therefore effortless to see sizeable law firms preparing themselves to assist their customers in a wide range of possible issues ranging of intellectual property, product liability, compliance, regulatory, insurance, tax and other areas.

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    Bird & Bird: “No one understands how the law’s going to alter, but it has to.”

    In 2014, Bird & Bird, the international law firm comprised of 1,100 lawyers in 28 offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, was one of the initially to invest worthwhile resources to assist his clients dealing with legal issues related to 3D Printing or 3D Scanning. Sophie Eyre, Partner at Bird & Bird, was saying at that time “It is obvious that the demarcation lines between makers and completers are changing. Issues of traceability and product testing are going to be quite significant, and what of inquiries of blame if there’s an injury. Is it the 3D version software? The printing device? The operator? Or the warnings – or lack of warnings – as to the types of materials to use? All of those issues are going to arise, whereas preceding it’s been quite clear-cut. It cannot be that it’s going to go under current completer legislation. It can have to be elevated to negligence claims, and individuals are going to have to prove who inside the chain put the defect into the product. Very clear disclaimers may be significant for insurer. And finally, if you are a business supplying someone with a product you require to understand into that jurisdiction you are supplying that product. But if you are sending out CAD files electronically you don’t understand if they’ve gone to Outer Mongolia, Belgium, or the US, where the penal damages can be horrific.

    Her advice to equiteone was quite clear: Massive risk management. According to her, “No one understands how the law’s going to alter, but it has to.”

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    Hunton & Williams commencees a 3D Printing team to assist his clients

    Following on Bird & Bird doorsteps, Hunton & Williams, a sizeable international law firm with 800 lawyers in 19 offices, has just decided to commence a cross-practice 3D Printing team to advise clients as they explore this innovation. Maya M. Eckstein, head of the firm’s intellectual property practice group, is major the effort. Maya is adopting an holistic approach that should encompass all the domains being challenged by the new innovation. She is stating “We are formalizing work we have been doing since the emergence of this transformative making system, and we are poised to advise on the new legal issues arising in 3D printing in intellectual property, product liability, compliance, regulatory, insurance, tax and other areas.”

    Drawing on the talents of a multi-practice group of lawyers may already assisting clients with these matters, the 3D printing team at Hunton & Williams can donate clients an advantage as they consider the opportunities presented by via 3D printing in their operations. In addition to Eckstein, the team comes with partners A. Todd Brown for litigation and products liability matters, Eric J. Hanson for intellectual property issues, Brian L. Hager for corporate concerns, Rita Davis for tax-related litigation issues, and Walter J. Andrews and Michael S. Levine for insurance and reinsurance advice.

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    Open Design hopefully to follow the good results of Open Source coding

    It is too early to say how the legal systems can react to 3D Printing and 3D Scanning. We can just hope that creativity can be fostered and that Open Design can thrive as Open Source coding did the last twenty years.


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