3D Printing & Open Innovation: Intellectual Property, the Creative Commons & the New Economy (April 20, 2017)

3D Printing & Open Innovation: Intellectual Property, the Creative Commons & the New Economy

Dr Matthew Rimmer, Professor of Intellectual Property & Innovation Law, Queensland University of Technology

Fri., April 20, 2017

2:30-3:30 PM

Sherman Centre, 

1st floor Mills Library

This presentation will consider 3D printing in terms of intellectual property, the Creative Commons, and the New Economy.  It will explore the use of open licensing in the context of the maker movement, 3D printing and additive manufacturing. The traditional historical categories of intellectual property have been disrupted by the cross-cutting technologies and cultural practices of the Maker Movement. There have been conflicts and skirmishes over copyright law and 3D printing – such as in the dispute over Katy Perry and Left Shark. 3D printing has also raised issues about the operation of copyright exceptions, intermediary liability, and technological protection measures. 3D printing firms have been anxious about the impact of the Supreme Court of the United States decision in Star Athletica about the relationship between the public domain, copyright law, and designs law. The topic of 3D printing and the right of repair has been significant in a number of areas of intellectual property (including designs law). Trademark holders have explored partnerships and collaborations with 3D printing companies – as well as enforcement actions. In patent law, 3D printing raises issues about patentable subject matter, patent infringement, and patent exceptions – particularly the defence of experimental use. The dispute between Desktop Metal Inc. and Markforged Inc. over patent law, trade secrets, and contract law in metal 3D printing is an important case study. There has been a tension between the proprietary approaches of start-up companies (particularly in respect of trade secrets), and the open ethos of the maker movement. One of the key features of the State of the Commons Report 2016 was the increasing use of creative commons licenses in the context of 3D printing.  There has been much discussion about 3D printing in terms of open licensing, open education, open data, and open innovation.


Dr Matthew Rimmer is a Professor in Intellectual Property and Innovation Law at the Faculty of Law, at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). He is a leader of the QUT Intellectual Property and Innovation Law research program, and a member of the QUT Digital Media Research Centre (QUT DMRC) the QUT Australian Centre for Health Law Research (QUT ACHLR), and the QUT International Law and Global Governance Research Program (QUT IP IL). Rimmer has published widely on copyright law and information technology, patent law and biotechnology, access to medicines, plain packaging of tobacco products, intellectual property and climate change, and Indigenous Intellectual Property. He is currently working on research on intellectual property, the creative industries, and 3D printing; intellectual property and public health; and intellectual property and trade, looking at the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the Trade in Services Agreement.

Rimmer is currently working as a Chief Investigator on an ARC Discovery Project on “Inventing The Future: Intellectual Property and 3D Printing” (2017-2020). This project aims to provide guidance for industry and policy-makers about intellectual property, three-dimensional (3D) printing, and innovation policy. It will consider the evolution of 3D printing, and examine its implications for the creative industries, branding and marketing, manufacturing and robotics, clean technologies, health-care and the digital economy. The project will examine how 3D printing disrupts copyright law, designs law, trade mark law, patent law and confidential information. The project expects to provide practical advice about intellectual property management and commercialisation, and boost Australia’s capacity in advanced manufacturing and materials science. Along with Dinusha Mendis and Mark Lemley, Rimmer is the editor of the forthcoming collection, 3D Printing and Beyond (Edward Elgar, 2018).