Chris Higgins Explains How 3D Printing Will Change Brand Infringement

Pinkerton | September.14.2015

Chris Higgins, a patent attorney at Orrick, recently spoke to Pinkerton about the likelihood that 3D printing will create a black market for CAD files that disclose a product’s blueprint, allowing for a large and potentially dangerous boom in counterfeit production enterprises. 
Chris explained, “With 3D printing, as soon as the CAD file is obtained, it can be immediately distributed, and anyone with a 3D printer can print out the infringing good themselves. This also means it is very difficult to track down how many infringing goods were printed because it may involve thousands of end users.  And similar to the recording industry in the Napster battles, companies will only spend the time and resources to track down the most egregious infringers.” 
Brands need to be proactive and adapt to the rapidly changing infringement landscape. Increased cyber security, heightened vetting of employees with access to CADs, and devices that can be imbedded in a product’s design to affirm its legitimacy, such as quantum dots, DNA signatures, shape memory polymers, and anti-erasing ink, may help temper the effects that 3D printed knockoffs will have on public safety and safety liability, cybercrime, intellectual property, and law enforcement practices.