INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: DRM for 3DP? >

Most 3DPrinting has been done in industry or by hobbyists who share their designs freely online. Now Intellectual Ventures, the company run by former Microsoft CTO Nathan Myhrvold, has been issued a patent on a system that could prevent people from printing objects using designs they haven’t paid for.

The patent, issued Tuesday by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, is titled Manufacturing control system and describes methods for managing object production rights.”

The patent basically covers the idea of digital rights management, or DRM, for 3DPrinters. Like with eBooks that won’t open unless you pay Barnes & Noble to use its Nook Reader, with Myhrvold’s technology your 3DPrinter won’t print unless you’ve paid up.

You load a file into your printer, then your printer checks to make sure it has the rights to make the object, to make it out of what material, how many times, and so on,” says Michael Weinberg, a staff lawyer at the non-profit Public Knowledge, who reviewed the patent – “It’s a very broad patent.”

The patent isn’t limited to 3DPrinting, also known as additive manufacturing. It also covers using digital files in extrusion, ejection, stamping, die casting, printing, painting, and tattooing and with materials that include “skin, textiles, edible substances, paper, and silicon printing.”

This is an attempt to assert ownership over DRM for 3DPrinting. It’s ‘Let’s use DRM to stop unauthorized copying of things’,” says Weinberg, author of It Will Be Awesome If They Don’t Screw it Up – a 2010 white paper on how intellectual property rights could harm the development of 3DPrinting.But Weinberg points out the big loophole to all this: “nothing says manufacturers have to use DRM.”

The manufacturing control patent, number 8,286,236, was filed back in 2008 and issued on October 9th to Invention Science Fund I, an arm of Myhrvold’s company.

Myhrvold’s timing of the 3DPrinting revolution could be perfect. The company MakerBot just opened the first retail store dedicated to 3DPrinters in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighbourhood. The second by company DeezerMaker opened within days afterwards in California.

People have begun accepting there is going to be wide access to [3DPrinting] machines, and they are going to be able to create a wide range of things,” says Michaels. “People will want to control that. This patent is people thinking about how to do it.”

Adapted from: http://www.technologyreview.com/view/429566/nathan-myhrvolds-cunning-plan-to-prevent-3-d/

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