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A Technological Licensing Framework for 3D Printed Content: A Focus in China

Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project

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3D printing, which is officially known as additive manufacturing, is a disruptive and innovative technology at current age. It is a revolutionary technology where an abstract digital design file can be transform to physical object as long as it is paired with 3D printer, by adding the materials on a layer upon layer basis.

However, legislation almost always lags behind innovation, the availability of open source platforms, where creative designers upload their designs to Internet and interested maker to download the file for free, has led to an ambiguous relationship between the development of 3D printing industry and law of intellectual property.

In order to tackle with this legal issue in 3D Printing, the professional law background academics from collaboration of University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus, University of Exeter, University of Sussex and University of Durham and Chinese University of Politics and Laws has proposed an idea of automatic single copyright online licensing platform, where all the contents are IP protected through embedded watermarking system, or RFID that could regulate authorized 3D Printing in China by tracking content and product information throughout the value chain.

The latest effort from the collaborative universities’ researchers have been in contact with 3D printing companies in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou and Ningbo, who wish to develop a new means of creating and disseminating 3D printed content utilizing their 3D printing systems and to capture new business opportunities through the automated online licensing platform.