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Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing

Posted by PeteD 
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 05:39PM
Think it's legal to use others copyrighted material or IP for personal use?

Ask the family that painted their newborn sons room with Dr. Sues characters. It made the local news and soon to follow was a lawsuit from the company that owns the works. They were court ordered to paint over the sues like characters and not paint them again.

This of course made national news and gave the Sues company a black eye. Disney stepped in (never one to pass up good PR) and filled the room with Disney artists to paint Disney characters and give them tons of Disney plush toys and the like.

The point is though that legally Sues had the right to sue over personal use.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 06:03PM
That should have fallen under artistic uses, which there are legal grounds for. It's a shame that happened as I am sure the family could have won if they could have afforded a decent lawyer.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 06:22PM
I heard that Dr Seuss story before, but I couldn't find any references to it online. It seems like the family may have had a fair use defence, but they probably got a cease and desist order and didn't want to contest it. It is quite believable though, the Dr Seuss estate seem to be quite "enthusiastic" with cease and desist orders.

I'm not sure without a court decision it tells us for sure about the legal point, but it is certainly true that aggressive IP owners can go after individuals if they want to and effectvely shut them down.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 07:07PM
There are no 'Fair Use' rules that apply to patents like they do to copyrights. So, while it is usually OK to use something that is copyrighted if you are not using it to make money, such as for a personal use, there is no such provision in patent law. If you are caught copying somthing that it patented, you are doing so illegally if you do not have express permission from the patent holder. There are no exceptions.

That said, the burden is with the patent holder to prove that you are infringing, and prove that they are damaged by that infringement to successfully claim damages. In copyright law, the law assumes that damage has been done as soon as the copyright has been infringed. So, generally it is a lot harder to successfully get damages in the court for a patent than a copyright, and patent holders generally do not go after 'personal use' infringers.

None of this will keep some patent troll from bringing a suit to court. A patent troll can still threaten you're startup/design sharing with a costly lawsuit.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 07:22PM
I think it is different in the UK. You can use patented things for private use here.


[www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com]
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 08:27PM
I think an important thing to figure out is how to have people make enough money to live from it without too much duplication of effort. The more people*time of non-duplicating work the further we get.(A good work ethic doesnt hurt either.) Also, if there are no measures against fire issues.. it isnt magic what they do commercially. Thermistors on the servos?
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 06, 2013 08:35PM
Just ran across this and thought it was appropriate (warning, direct link to pdf)

[pubs.aeaweb.org]
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 03:10AM
jzatopa Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Tekwizard going with the flow may work for quite a
> few but the fact is that the market is very
> different today then it was in the late 70s early
> 80s. What you are talking about could happen if
> we don't get some open source hardware groundwork
> laid out early enough. This emerging market is
> more related to the OS wars then the hardware
> wars. A form of linux runs huge parts of the
> internet and about 50% of out cellphones.

Linux is just a very watered down version of Unix, a system created by the US military in the 1950's to make communication possible in the event of a nuclear exchange between them and Russia. Now the Chinese are involved. Who do you think really controls or has a handle on it?

What happened in the late 70's and early 80's was not a new strategy. It is happening all the time and since it works, will happen again.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/07/2013 03:22AM by Tekwizard.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 03:16AM
jzatopa Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
I am sure the family could have won if
> they could have afforded a decent lawyer.

There is such a thing?
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 03:33AM
confused smiley




eye rolling smiley

Someone's name is a misnomer

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/07/2013 03:36AM by xclusive585.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 10:43AM
In Canada(or any other common wealth country) and the USA a court can only determine damages/infringement to a patent holder based on monetary loss.

Regardless what the written law is.....The fact remains you can build patented things for private use if you built them yourself, otherwise everyone would need to do a patent search every time they wanted make anything.

Consider this.......If you post a drawing on thingiverse that infringes a USA patent then You(if in the USA), Thingiverse and the owner of the server(if in the USA) can be sued in the USA.

If you post a drawing on thingiverse that infringes a Chineese patent then you can't be sued because there is no patent protection for a chineese patent in the USA.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 12:26PM
How can a drawing infringe a patent? Surely you would have to make something physical to infringe, so it would be the people downloading and building them. Since, unlike copyright, downloading would not be an issue, it would be hard to prove somebody built it (unless less they uploaded the "I made one" image).


[www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com]
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 01:52PM
CdnReprap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Regardless what the written law is.....The fact
> remains you can build patented things for private
> use if you built them yourself, otherwise everyone
> would need to do a patent search every time they
> wanted make anything.
>
> Consider this.......If you post a drawing on
> thingiverse that infringes a USA patent then
> You(if in the USA), Thingiverse and the owner of
> the server(if in the USA) can be sued in the USA.


Exactly. This is the concern. You cannot, however, disregard the written law. To do so will leave you open to a possible lawsuilt for patent infringement. That said, not nearly as much 'stuff' is patented as you think. Patents, (fortunately), do not have the ludicriously long lifetimes that copyrights have, and one cannot patent 'prior art', stuff that is patented or is in public domain, so the vast majority of 'stuff' is in the public domain.

People who patent something usually focus on what makes that thing unique. Earlier I gave the example of the Rostock. I did this on purpose. Most 3D printers use XYZ axis sytems that have been around since before dot matrix printers. Much of the IP for these systems are already in the public domain, since the patents have expired. The Rostock, however, uses a unique movement system that may be patentable (I don't really know, I haven't done any kind of patent search). Since Johann Rocholl released the .stl's for his design under a GPL, there is the implication that he inteneded to own some IP rights to his design rather than put it on public domain. Is his idea still patentable since he posted it online? I don't know, right now it's a grey area and I'm not a patent lawyer.

@nophead

Under US patent law, a drawing of a useful thing that is patentable is considered no different from a physical version of that thing. I believe most countries patent laws have the same stance.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 02:14PM
CdnReprap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> In Canada(or any other common wealth country) and
> the USA a court can only determine
> damages/infringement to a patent holder based on
> monetary loss.
>
> Regardless what the written law is.....The fact
> remains you can build patented things for private
> use if you built them yourself, otherwise everyone
> would need to do a patent search every time they
> wanted make anything.

I think you are confusing separate things, what the laws say, and what one might get away with. Also, it is not safe to assume that laws always have sensible implications, nor are they applied in black and white ways.

I think it is worth posting the following as it is a good explanation:
[www.iusmentis.com]
Quote

Commercial and noncommercial use

In most European countries, the exclusive exploitation rights granted by a patent are restricted to commercial exploitation. A private person who builds the patented invention in his own home for his own personal goals cannot infringe on a patent. The reasoning behind this is that such a situation cannot harm the patent holder.

US law is more strict. It forbids anyone from making, using or selling the invention, even when the use is strictly personal. Of course, since patent infringement lawsuits are very expensive, a private person is rarely if ever prosecuted for using the invention in his own home. Such a situation could occur when a private person offers on his website a piece of software that uses someone else's patented technology. The patent holder may feel that the freely available software threatens his commercial product, and then decide to use the patent to prevent the distribution of the free product.
Studying the invention

It is always permissible to use a patented invention for research purposes. Such study may give new insights in possible uses of the invention, or possible alternatives to what is described in the patent. This might even result in new patents for the alternatives, or in workarounds.

Of course, the "research" should not simply be a commercial exploitation in disguise.

So whether a personal implementatiion legally infringes depends on usage and jurisdiction. However, it is probably true that in all jurisdictions a personal and private implementation that is kept secret is unlikely to be discovered or prosecuted.

Unfortunately in the context of Libre Hardware none of this really helps much. Even with a patent, you can't force people who make derivatives to share them, and it is problematic to make and share patented designs in the usual FOSS spirit even if the intended end use is for personal/research purposes.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 02:15PM
How it was explained to me.

The drawing is not the infringement, drawing the object in CAD is the same as ripping a song you own on a PC. (not illegal)

Posting/distributing it is where legallity comes into play, because it could be argued that each download is a lost sale because downloading the stl file is pretty clear intent the file will be printed.

Example, you just bought yourself a new iphone5.......what you want/need and can afford for your new phone is the little docking station that apple produces for all the iphones.

If you draw the item and post it on thingiverse and it gets downloaded say 1000 times, you can be sure a lawyer can argue that apple has lost a minimum 1000 sales of their dock as a direct result of the file posted.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 02:54PM
CdnReprap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How it was explained to me.
>
> The drawing is not the infringement, drawing the
> object in CAD is the same as ripping a song you
> own on a PC. (not illegal)
>
> Posting/distributing it is where legallity comes
> into play, because it could be argued that each
> download is a lost sale because downloading the
> stl file is pretty clear intent the file will be
> printed.
>
> Example, you just bought yourself a new
> iphone5.......what you want/need and can afford
> for your new phone is the little docking station
> that apple produces for all the iphones.
>
> If you draw the item and post it on thingiverse
> and it gets downloaded say 1000 times, you can be
> sure a lawyer can argue that apple has lost a
> minimum 1000 sales of their dock as a direct
> result of the file posted.

So what happens when I change the shape just a little bit so it is not the same as the original but is a derivative? Does this sidestep the whole problem?
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 03:07PM
CdnReprap Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> How it was explained to me.
>
> The drawing is not the infringement, drawing the
> object in CAD is the same as ripping a song you
> own on a PC. (not illegal)
>
> Posting/distributing it is where legallity comes
> into play, because it could be argued that each
> download is a lost sale because downloading the
> stl file is pretty clear intent the file will be
> printed.
>
> Example, you just bought yourself a new
> iphone5.......what you want/need and can afford
> for your new phone is the little docking station
> that apple produces for all the iphones.
>
> If you draw the item and post it on thingiverse
> and it gets downloaded say 1000 times, you can be
> sure a lawyer can argue that apple has lost a
> minimum 1000 sales of their dock as a direct
> result of the file posted.

The example you gave is correct, but even making a CAD copy of of a patened item is infringement. To expand your example, The prosecution issues a subpenoa for your computer and finds that you have created CAD drawings of their proprietary headphones as well. They can sue you for that as well. They would, however, be hard pressed to prove any damages from the infringement of the headphones. So, you may be hit with a fine and the expensive court costs when proven guilty of infringement, but you won't have to pay Apple any damages.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 03:51PM
jzatopa Wrote:
>
> So what happens when I change the shape just a
> little bit so it is not the same as the original
> but is a derivative? Does this sidestep the whole
> problem?

It depends on what the claims in the patent are, but take my word on it ....ornamental designs are difficult to fight because everyone will interpret the similarities and differences differently.


PeteD Wrote:

> The example you gave is correct, but even making a
> CAD copy of of a patened item is infringement. To
> expand your example, The prosecution issues a
> subpenoa for your computer and finds that you have
> created CAD drawings of their proprietary
> headphones as well. They can sue you for that as
> well. They would, however, be hard pressed to
> prove any damages from the infringement of the
> headphones. So, you may be hit with a fine and
> the expensive court costs when proven guilty of
> infringement, but you won't have to pay Apple any
> damages.

I think the CAD drawing part is where it differs country to country.

Here in Canada I think they would make you buy the product. Thats' what they do if you get caught stealing software/torrent downloads, or a $5K fine per incident.

A company using pirated software...$25K fine per incident and must purchase the product.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 04:16PM
Quote

@nophead

Under US patent law, a drawing of a useful thing that is patentable is considered no different from a physical version of that thing. I believe most countries patent laws have the same stance.

How can that be? The patent itself will contain a drawing and they are online and can be downloaded by anybody. Patents aren't secrets, just the opposite so how can posting a drawing of a patented object be a crime? I think you are mixing patents and copyright.


[www.hydraraptor.blogspot.com]
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 05:54PM
Wikipedia has a whole article on patent infringement [en.wikipedia.org], nowhere there or anywhere else have I seen it stated that a drawing of a patented item is an infringement. I think whoever told you that was misinformed, or at least there was some context that was not passed on.

Patent generally protects the use, manifacture and sale of an invention, I just can't see how a drawing is included in those. I am with nophead on this one.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 07, 2013 06:14PM
I got to ask, why exactly are people worried about patents when if anything we are the ones likely to be copied off,

last time i checked most of the competition to the reprap seems to be fixiated on locking people into high cost filament and cartridge based filament systems and some companies have built their extruders very specifically only to run their own filament the same kind of philosophy seems to exist for a lot of other opensource/proprietry areas,

most of them have been at it for over a decade and still haven't produced a decent extruder that doesn't require a filament with a stupidly tight tolerance just to get through even a basic print and even then some of them are not even close software/slicer wise to what we have in the open-source world

i think in another decades time if we're still around after the upcoming economic collapse, companies perusing patents and patents trolls suing people for a living will be laughed at and viewed as they should be ,equivalent to a pair of children in a playground arguing over who had an idea first,




-=( blog )=- -=( thingiverse )=- -=( 3Dindustries )=- -=( Aluhotend - mostly metal hotend)=--=( Facebook )=-



Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 08, 2013 01:20PM
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 09, 2013 09:26AM
xclusive585 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> We need just one patent lawyer to build his own
> machine and get involved here. But the chances of
> a lawyer being a tech-geek? :-(

I guess you don't know many patent lawyers? Most of us are tech geeks and those who work in the electrical or computer space have a Masters or PhD in Electrical Engineering or a similar field. True we're lawyers, but you can't become registered as a practioner with the USPTO without having at least a Bachelors degree in a technical subject. At the top tier firms, such as the one I work at, most have the aformentioned advanced degrees as well. This only goes for patents, BTW, not copyright and trademark, which generally have a lower technical content.
Re: Copyrights, Patents, and 3D printing
February 09, 2013 10:27AM
DoktrMike Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> xclusive585 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > We need just one patent lawyer to build his own
> > machine and get involved here. But the chances
> of
> > a lawyer being a tech-geek? :-(
>
> I guess you don't know many patent lawyers? Most
> of us are tech geeks and those who work in the
> electrical or computer space have a Masters or PhD
> in Electrical Engineering or a similar field.
> True we're lawyers, but you can't become
> registered as a practioner with the USPTO without
> having at least a Bachelors degree in a technical
> subject. At the top tier firms, such as the one I
> work at, most have the aformentioned advanced
> degrees as well. This only goes for patents, BTW,
> not copyright and trademark, which generally have
> a lower technical content.

That I did not know. Cool.
So does your firm want to do some non-profit work? Point us at a fool-proof method to "open-patent" our design functions? spinning smiley sticking its tongue out
If anyone's interested in reading more about 3D printing law issues, please consider checking out our relatively new blog - Law in the Making

We're talking about patents, trademarks, copyrights, piracy, guns, drugs... everything really.

www.lawitm.com

Thanks!
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