CNBC Report: 3D Printing Patent “Gold Rush”

My colleague, patent agent Matthew Powell, pointed me to a new article from CNBC‘s Heesun Wee which sheds light on the flood of 3D printing-related patent applications being filed:

From utilitarian processes to the final appearance of designed objects ranging from jewelry to spare machine parts, get ready for a patent land grab of 3-D intellectual property. Industrial manufacturers are making shapes from fused bits of plastic and metal powder; shapes that previously weren’t possible. They’re looking up from their work on the shop floor and wondering, “Do I need a patent?”

“The last time I saw this kind of gold rush for patents was during the dot-com boom” of the late 1990s, said Peter Canelias, a patent attorney based in New York.

The 3-D technology has kept the Patent and Trademark Office busy, too. During the last decade, it has received more than 6,800 patent applications related to 3-D printing (also known as additive manufacturing). Since 2007, about 680 patents a year have been filed—39.6 percent more than 2002, when 487 patents were filed. Since 2003, the office has granted 3,500 patents related to 3-D printing.

The article is a fantastic survey of the patent frenzy and some of the possible implications of 3D printing for ‘traditional’ intellectual property protections.

2 comments for “CNBC Report: 3D Printing Patent “Gold Rush”

  1. Alan
    August 16, 2013 at 7:03 am

    It is interesting to see 3D printing get more mainstream coverage but the article doesn’t seem to differentiate between patents relating to the 3d printing process itself and patents on the end products that may be made (or copied) by someone using a 3d printer.

  2. August 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

    That is true. Like much of the coverage of 3D printing, there is often a shortfall of depth in distinguishing between the buzz words and the realities. It’s a great point and I’ll try to drive home the difference in patent implications my next post.

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