MakerBot, a leader of the consumer 3-D printing movement, recently unveiled its first foray into 3-D scanners. But as the company breaks ground in a new segment, much of the conversation still centers on how intellectual property implications may shape the future of 3-D production processes.
The latest addition to MakerBot's product mix provides the company with a potentially powerful foothold in the nascent 3-D scanning segment to go alongside its established line of 3-D printers and vast online design library. According to The New York Times, many market analysts view MakerBot's moves as the prelude to a consumer manufacturing revolution. However, a flurry of intellectual property disputes could hamper these promising developments.
Part of the concern stems from lingering memories of the litigious environment which has engulfed the mobile technology space. But according to Forbes, patent, copyright and trademark management issues could all soon come into play.
Designers emulating housewares, for example, could unknowingly infringe upon the patents covering the an object's functional properties. Meanwhile decorative accents could be covered by copyrights while trademarks would be required to distinguish original copies from their reproductions. In any case, according to the news source, 3-D innovators are encouraged to stay abreast of these dynamic developments as they may well face legal challenges down the line.