3D Printing: Intellectual Property and Innovation. QUT Symposium

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QUT Faculty of Law Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Program

3D Printing: Intellectual Property and Innovation

Thursday, 25 October 2018

1:00pm to 5:00pm

The Edge Auditorium, State Library of Queensland,

Brisbane, Queensland


This half-day event will consider the role of 3D printing in intellectual property, education, community participation, and innovation.

The first session will provide a comparative consideration of intellectual property and 3D Printing. Professor Marcus Norrgard from the University of Helsinki will provide a keynote address on intellectual property and 3D Printing in the European Union. There will be a consideration of intellectual property and 3D printing in the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Australia. There will be an examination of the relevance of the various forms of intellectual property — including copyright law, designs law, trade mark law, patent law, and trade secrets, as well as forms of open licensing.

The second session will consider the role in 3D printing in culture heritage, community participation and cultural engagement. The State Library of Queensland will consider the role of cultural institutions as hosts of makerspaces in Queensland and Australia. Living labs have also played an important role in promoting digital participation and cultural engagement.

The third session will explore the role of makerspaces, fabspaces, tech shops, and hackerspaces in relation to innovation, business, and enterpreneurship. There will be a consideration of the application of 3D printing in the fields of health, medicine, and biotechnology. There will be a focus upon how small-to-medium enterprises have made used of 3D printing. There will be a discussion of the role of crowdfunding in supporting ventures of the Maker Movement.

This event will seek to pass on both theoretical and practical insights gained from an ARC Discovery Project to the local maker community.

1. 3D printing, CAD files and European IP law

Professor Dr. Marcus Norrgård, University of Helsinki


3D printing (3DP), is gaining foothold as a viable manufacturing technology especially for small-series, customizable products. Patent, copyright, trademark, and design laws have not however been especially adapted to take into account the advent of this decentralized mode of production. As with many new technologies, 3DP creates friction with IP laws, especially in the form of under-protection.

This presentation gives a general overview of some of the key issues in the clash between 3DP and intellectual property law seen from the point of view of European intellectual property law. Many of the issues stem from the electronically distributable CAD file, which contains the information of the product to be printed in the form of a digital three-dimensional representation. For patent law the CAD file poses an interesting challenge because it is not at all clear, at least in European patent law, that the distribution of CAD files infringes a patent. Especially in cases where the printing itself is done by a private person with a non-commercial purpose, the problem becomes accentuated. A problematic situation may also arise where the infringing acts are divided geographically between different jurisdictions. It would thus be in the interest of the patent holder to be able to enjoin the distribution of CAD files, but it is far from clear that this is possible, at least in Europe.

Trademark law faces similar issues in that commercial use is required for infringement. 3D printing trademarked products in a non-commercial setting would normally fall outside of trademark protection, but it might still have a deleterious effect on the value of the trademark. Also here distribution of CAD files would be a clear point of focus for enforcement efforts.

In copyright law the issues are a bit different, since European copyright law does not require commercial use. Also here at least some of the problems boil down to the significance of the CAD file. Is the CAD file a representation of the ‘work’ the distribution of which is an infringement? Or is it a computer program? Or is it more akin to a blueprint for a product? These questions have not yet been finally solved.

The presentation will primarily focus on these infringement-related questions, but will also briefly touch upon the question of what the rights holder can do to enhance protection against 3D printing (for example, through patent claim drafting).


Marcus Norrgård is Professor of Law at the University of Helsinki, Vaasa Unit of Legal Studies. He was awarded the Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree in 2002 and law degree in 1996, both at the University of Helsinki.

Norrgård is chairman of the Finnish Copyright Council (Tekijänoikeusneuvosto), editor-in-chief for Tidskrift, utgiven av Juridiska föreningen i Finland, chairman of the ethics board of the Finnish Franchising Association and member of the board of Nordiskt Immateriellt Rättsskydd (NIR). He has previously served on the Board of the Finnish AIPPI Group and as editor for Tidskrift, utgiven av Juridiska föreningen i Finland (JFT) and Nordiskt Immateriellt Rättsskydd (NIR).

2. 3D Printing as a Legal Disruptor: Challenges and Insights for Copyright Law

Dr. Kylie Pappalardo, QUT


3D printing poses challenges to the application and enforcement of intellectual property law, because it facilitates the copying and production of objects with ease, in the home. Communities of practice have also grown around 3D printing, where ‘makers’ share design files (CAD files) for the printers through websites and online fora such as Thingiverse. Sometimes these files may be infringing. But quite separate from anticipated copying and enforcement issues, 3D printers raise deeper questions about the values we use to justify copyright law in the first place.

A cornerstone of copyright protection is originality. For many creators, and in most of the stories and tropes we tell about authorship, originality is closely tied to authenticity. The creative ‘value’ of a work is often measured by its ‘newness’. In creative communities, 3D printing is disrupting some of these established ideas about what it means to be creative. In cosplay communities, for example, reputation is built on authenticity, and authenticity is demonstrated through creating costumes and props from scratch. There are disputes about the extent to which cosplayers can use 3D printing in their creations and still be seen as ‘authentic’. Even outside of cosplay, there are questions around whether creativity is diminished when an artist 3D-prints artistic components that were once made by hand, and the extent to which ‘improvements’ and ‘additions’ to existing objects are new creations worthy of legal protection.

In this presentation, I canvass the empirical work undertaken to date as part of the ARC Discovery Project on 3D Printing and IP Law. I present data and findings derived from qualitative interviews with makers, creators and cosplayers in Australia, Canada and the United States. I explore the ways in which 3D printing is challenging established notions of originality, authenticity and collaborative creation, and how makers and creators are navigating these challenges.


Dr. Kylie Pappalardo researches in intellectual property and innovation law, focusing primarily on the intersection between copyright and creativity, and the role and regulation of technology intermediaries. She is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow on the ARC Discovery Project, “Inventing the Future: Intellectual Property and 3D Printing.”

Kylie is a Lecturer in the Law School at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia, where she leads the research program on copyright law and creative communities. She is also a Centre Member of QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC). Kylie holds degrees in Law and Creative Writing from QUT, a Masters of Law from Georgetown University in Washington D.C., and a PhD from the Australian Catholic University. Her doctoral thesis examined the regulation of internet service providers for online copyright infringement.

Kylie has been a senior researcher with the Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project and with Creative Commons Australia. She has also worked with the Arts Law Centre of Queensland and served on the board of Youth Arts Queensland.

3. Metal 3D Printing: Patent Law, Trade Secrets, and Additive Manufacturing

Professor Matthew Rimmer, QUT


As part of our ARC Discovery Project, we have created a 20,000+ database of patents classified under the category of additive manufacturing, with the help of IFI Claims Patent Services. The field of 3D printing patents was the second fastest growing field of technology in 2017 (after e-cigarettes). There has been a significant concentration of patents in the field of 3D printing, and a diversification of subject matter in terms of the patent claims. One of the emerging trends has been the rise of patents in respect of metal 3D printing. There has been significant investment in research and development in respect of metal 3D printing in the United States, Canada, the European Union, and Australia.

There has been major commercial interest in the field of metal 3D printing, and significant conflict over the ownership of intellectual property (covering not only patents but also trade secrets). In 2018, Desktop Metal Inc. launched litigation against Markforged Inc. and Matiu Parangi in relation to intellectual property and metal 3D printing. As well as complaints of patent infringement, Desktop Metal Inc. has alleged that the defendants had engaged in acts of trade secret misappropriation, unfair and deceptive business practices, and breach of contract. In July 2018, a Federal Jury found that Markforged Inc. did not infringe two patents held by its rival Desktop Metal Inc. In response, Greg Mark, CEO of Markforged Inc. commented: ‘We feel gratified that the jury found we do not infringe, and confirmed that the Metal X, our latest extension of the Markforged printing platform, is based on our own proprietary Markforged technology.’ Desktop Metal commented: ‘Desktop Metal is pleased that the jury agreed with the validity of all claims in both of Desktop Metal’s patents asserted against Markforged.’ Moreover, Desktop Metal commented: ‘We are currently reviewing legal options concerning the infringement issue.’ Claims of further violations of trade secrets and contract law were debated at trial. The parties have settled their dispute on confidential terms.

Drawing upon this case study, this paper considers whether 3D printing will disrupt patent law, policy, and practice. It also explores the tension between the use of trade secrets in commercial 3D printing, and the open source ethos of the Maker Movement.


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. His work is archived at QUT ePrints SSRN Abstracts Bepress Selected Works.

Session 2 — Community

4. Creating, Making, and Engaging with Cultural Heritage: 3D Printing in Libraries

Margaret Warren, State Library of Queensland


Libraries have been experimenting with 3D printing, evaluating it as a new technology for audience engagement, understanding it’s potential for creating and making, and grappling with the challenges and opportunities of accessibility to this technology. In addition, 3D printing has potential to enable fragile collection objects to be handled, explored and interacted with through the use of 3D printing, releasing them from the ‘look, but don’t touch’ paradigm that has been necessary for their conservation and preservation. This presentation will explore 3D printing in libraries, using examples of the use of 3D printing in public libraries and at The Edge, and profile a project at State Library of Queensland to digitise and print a fragile 1950s Braille Globe.


Margaret Warren is the Director of Content Management at the State Library of Queensland. She was previously the co-ordinator of Discovery Services at the State Library of Queensland. In terms of her education, she has worked with high school aged students teaching in the areas of English, Music and Mathematics.

As a librarian, Margaret Warren has a wide range of library experience including reference librarianship, collection development, project management, development of digitisation standards and guidelines, online delivery of audio and video, library management systems, systems librarianship, organisational change projects.

She is the Chair of Copyright Advisory Committee at the State Library of Queensland, and has expertise in copyright law and the creative commons. * ABC News Photograph

5. Social Living Labs for Community Situated Co-Design

Associate Professor Michael Dezuanni, QUT DMRC


This paper is not about 3D printing per-se. It is about a research methodology for deep co-design that values local knowledge. The social living labs methodology can be applied to community 3D printing projects as much as it can be to any other social, creative or design-based activity. The paper locates the methodology in the context of community based digital inclusion initiatives that seek to assist at risk community members to participate more fully in digital activities. The Australian Digital Inclusion Index shows that people living on low incomes, indigenous Australians, people without a secondary school education, people living with a disability and older Australians are at risk of low levels of digital inclusion.

Meanwhile, 3D printing may be considered to be a relatively inaccessible activity, particularly for those at risk of digital exclusion. On a hierarchy of device familiarity, platforms access, and software complexity, most 3D printing participants are likely to have at least medium, if not high levels of digital inclusion.

This paper explains how the social living labs methodology works, and how it might it has been used with participants who want to know about 3D printing, but who have little knowledge about it. It will also outline the early stages of a social living lab that is being planned for implementation at The Edge, involving severely physically disabled young people who want to enhance their digital creativity and design skills, including 3D printing.


A/Prof Michael Dezuanni undertakes research about digital media, literacies and learning in home, school and community contexts. He is the Associate Director of QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre which produces world-leading research for a creative, inclusive and fair digital media environment. Michael has been a chief investigator on five ARC Linkage projects with a focus on digital literacy and learning at school, the use of digital games in the classroom, digital inclusion in regional and rural Australia, and the use of screen content in formal and informal learning.

Recent projects have focused on how young Australians access, perceive and are affected by the news: http://apo.org.au/node/120076; and he has led the development of the Queensland report for the Australian Digital Inclusion Index. Michael has co-authored and edited three books for leading international publishers and has published forty peer reviewed journal articles and book chapters. From 2010 to 2015, Michael was the expert advisor to the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) for the development of Media Arts for the Australian Curriculum.

Session 3 — Innovation

6. Adoption and Diffusion of Disruptive Technologies: The Case of Additive Manufacturing in MedTech Industry in Australia

Dr Sam Tavassoli, RMIT University


This presentation provides the preliminary findings of a newly granted two-year project, between RMIT and Stryker, investigating the adoption of disruptive technologies by focusing on the case of Additive Manufacturing (AM) in the Medical Technology (MedTech) industry, particularly implant applications. The expected outcome of the project is a comprehensive guideline for the adoption and diffusion implants applications of AM among Australian firms. This is done by developing pathways for manufacturers to enable them to navigate through the existing market, technological, and regulatory uncertainties that characterise the industry. The impact of the project will be to unlock the potential of AM applications in the MedTech, which will benefit potential new entrants to the industry, incumbent firms, health care system, and patients in Australia.

In specific, the presentation outlines followings: (i) stakeholder mapping of the industry in Australia. This included members of industry, researchers, academics, regulatory experts and MedTech consultants. (ii) Identifying the top four major “opportunity areas” in which innovation can foster the adoption of AM implants. Such opportunity areas are: developments in Science & Materials, Technology, Business Models, and Regulation & Quality. (iii) Identifying and discussing the barriers in realising such opportunity areas in practice. Finally, (iv) recommending solutions based on the discussion and understanding of the proposed barriers that are hindering the wide spread adoption and diffusion of 3-D printed medical implants.


Sam Tavassoli is a Lecturer in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at RMIT University and also a research fellow at Centre for Innovation, Research and Competence in the Learning Economy (CIRCLE), Lund University, Sweden. He holds a PhD in Industrial Economics from Blekinge Institute of Technology and a Postdoc from Lund University, Sweden. Sam was also a visiting scholar at University of North Carolina, U.S, during his PhD program. He is an industrial engineer by basic training and has a master degree in Innovation Management from Linköping University, Sweden. Sam has research interest in economics of innovation & technological change, innovation strategies of firms, entrepreneurial firms, and geography of innovation & entrepreneurship.

7. 3D Printing: Funding the Road-trip to Scale

Anne Matthew, QUT


This presentation considers the dynamics of access to finance for 3D printing start-ups and the positive ripple effects flowing from disruption caused by additive and discrete manufacturing. Corporate law tightly regulates how companies can seek investment in exchange for equity. In recent years Titomic, Robo3D, Aurura Labs and 333D have engaged in initial public offerings with varying degrees of success. It is evident from these initial offerings that while sophisticated investors may have an appetite for high-risk investment, they have a corresponding appetite for reward. Listing is not an option for fledgling companies that have not yet reached scale. For these companies, the window between concept development and set-up or prototype development is most often where the need for capital becomes acute. This point in the innovation cycle can present as a make or break capital gap for start-ups. At this fledgling stage it can be a struggle to attract investment. There are high hopes that equity crowdfunding can help to fill the capital gap by opening opportunities to tap into new markets of unsophisticated investors with an appetite for taking risks on good ideas. While engaging in equity funding can accelerate growth, it comes at the cost of surrendering equity and, to some extent, control of the company; this is an uneasy prospect for many makers. This makes reward-based crowdfunding an attractive option. Reward-based crowdfunding facilitates public fundraising, but without the regulatory trappings or relinquishing of control associated with equity-based fundraising.

Given the place of additive manufacturing in supply chains, and the possibilities of reduced production costs and speedy prototypes produced in discrete manufacturing, the success of 3D printing businesses are intertwined with the success and survival of the big business, innovators, creators and makers utilising their service. Supporting 3D printing will inevitably support other start-ups since it has potential to dramatically shrink the window between concept development and prototype development for innovators and creators. Early experiences of 3D printing companies with fundraising should encourage policy makers to review and refine access to finance options, as well as ensuring that transition to scale is not hampered or hindered by their corporate form.

This presentation will consider recent developments in equity crowdfunding, threshold issues with gatekeeper liability and the preparedness of fintech to allow unsophisticated investors access to funding opportunities. Lessons from the experience of 3D printing businesses with reward-based crowdfunding will be considered.


Anne Matthew is a Lecturer in the Law School at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Anne researches the regulation of technologies, innovation, entrepreneurship, primarily through the lens of corporate law. Anne’s research includes a focus on legal issues arising with artificial intelligence. Her current research projects include an examination of regulatory approaches to artificial intelligence within the financial services sector, particularly as it continues to deploy deep-learning algorithms and technologies more extensively. Anne is currently undertaking a PhD in the regulation of corporate governance in innovative and entrepreneurial enterprise. Anne’s PhD thesis engages with economic theory to explore how legal and regulatory frameworks accommodate and encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, access to finance and good corporate governance. Anne leads the UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee, Australia’s Expert Advisory Group on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise and is an active member of the Banking and Financial Services Law Association’s Academic Committee. Anne is a member of the Intellectual Property and Innovation Law Research Program and the Commercial and Properly Law Research Centre. Following her admission as a solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland, Anne practised in banking, finance and small business advisory.

Anne is keen to support the ongoing success of start-up culture development and innovation initiatives on campus and participates as an academic mentor in Disrupting Law, an annual 54 hour hackathon in which lawyers and students collaborate to generate new ideas seeking to advance legal practice via technology and innovation.

8. 3D Printing Technologies: Trends, Opportunities, Innovation and the Circular Economy

Angela Dahlke, QUT Foundry


The potential and promise of 3D printing (3DP) technologies is exciting — but how will 3DP impact humanity’s future? This is uncertain — and the stakes are high — so it’s important we understand the risks and opportunities from a systems level. 3DP is certainly expanding what’s possible with, and who can engage in, design and manufacturing. Its unlocking creative expression and empowering maker movements. It offers rejuvenation of local industries as an enabler of new value and venture creation by innovators, entrepreneurs, and organisations. But where is it headed? How can we harness this technology for maximal benefit — economically, socially and environmentally? What are the important system level forces, signals, and megatrends we must heed so as to better see, shape and seize opportunities whilst avoiding unintended harm? Our current context requires us to reimagine how we design, manufacture, exchange and preserve value, with transition to a circular economy recommended to restore natural capital and unlock new opportunities for growth and prosperity. The future impact of 3DP can be net positive, if we so make it. Let’s explore how.


Angela Dahlke is passionate about harnessing innovation and entrepreneurship, and empowering others to do so, to solve challenges, create new value, and realise positive impact. Angela has a unique depth and breadth of experience across sectors, professions and knowledge-disciplines plus demonstrated impact as an innovator, entrepreneur and researcher. Her post-graduate qualifications are in science, business, and law, and she is a patent & trademarks attorney (registered in Australia and New Zealand). She helps current and future innovators and entrepreneurs at QUT’s start-up hub, QUT foundry, and lectures in entrepreneurship at QUT Business School.

Angela’s side hustles embrace using business as a force for good. She is a co-founding executive of Hacking Health Queensland, which co-hosted the World Hospital Congress’ first Design Jam to bring together health stakeholders and experts to co-create solutions in health and care. Angela is also a co-founder and published scientist of Bionauts.com.au, which protects and discovers biodiversity, essential for sustaining life on earth, and sequences the genetic ‘library of life’. Bionauts have led successful expeditions leading to scientific discoveries and publications with high school students. They have also been invited to join the moon-shot Earth Bio-genome Project. Angela is an advocate for helping transition to the circular economy for the opportunity it affords and because it’s a necessity.

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