IP Implications of 3D Printing In An Automotive Context

A brief but very interesting post in the TechnoLlama blog cites The Intellectual Property Implications of Low-Cost 3D Printing in the context of a case of a hand made replacement of an automotive part that is no longer in mass production, how cease and desist order was served, and overthrown in court….


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…..I was ordered by the court to stop work on the vehicle and the Ford dealer stated that he was representing the interests of the Ford Corporation’s Intellectual Property and to stop the construction of counterfeit Ford parts for sale at a commercial enterprise. At court, the judge ruled that since the automobile manufacturers were only required to make/have replacement parts available for seven years after the original date of manufacture of any model vehicle and since that the vehicle and part in question is over ten years old, for all intents and purposes, with the exception of any badge displaying the company’s copyrighted logo, the vehicle and it’s parts have passed into public domain,…therefore any other part can be created in the part’s original image for repair or reconstruction or likewise, can be modified to suit the owner’s personal tastes…. J. Netherland, a SCRIPTed reader

This incident appears to have happened in the UK and laws will be different for each territory, but what is interesting in this case is that there was a commercial transaction over the replacement part being produced, not somebody making it for themselves, so it follows that one could in the same way sell 3D printed replacement parts for automotive parts that are ‘in the public domain’?  Interesting to see how this will unfold…

TechnoLlama may be a site worth keeping an eye on as it covers cyberlaw topics with an emphasis on open licensing, digital rights, software protection, virtual worlds, and llamas. Ok, no llamas.

Image by kc8kzn from Maker Faire Detroit.

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