IP issues in 3D printing
Produced in partnership with David Knight of Fieldfisher LLP
IP issues in 3D printing

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with David Knight of Fieldfisher LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • IP issues in 3D printing
  • What is 3D printing?
  • Use of 3D printing in commercial manufacture
  • Use of 3D printing in private non-commercial manufacture
  • Patents
  • Designs
  • Registered design rights
  • Unregistered design rights
  • Copyright (for artistic works)
  • Trade marks
  • more

As of exit day (31 January 2020) the UK is no longer an EU Member State. However, in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK has entered an implementation period, during which it continues to be subject to EU law. This has an impact on this Practice Note. For further guidance, see Practice Note: Brexit—IP rights.

What is 3D printing?

Conventionally objects have been made by casting in a mould or by machining material from a block of steel, wood or the like or some combination of such techniques. 3D printing, also referred to as additive manufacturing, approaches manufacture from a different direction, and builds up an object layer by layer under computer control using a digital design file. This digital design file, which is typically generated from a 3D CAD (computer-aided design) file of the object, and is referred to in this Practice Note as the 'data file', contains all of the relevant instructions and information the 3D printer will need to produce the 3D object, specifying the size and shape of the object, as well as any surface decoration. The data file can be created from scratch or by reverse-engineering from an existing physical object through the use of a 3D scanner or camera, or a combination of the two techniques. Technology already exists to 'print' objects in