There’s a pretty interesting post at Policy Mic by Nate Abrams suggesting a similarity exists between the ongoing U.S. Supreme Court case of Bowman v. Monsanto and the 3D printing industry. In the Monsanto case the basic issue is whether patent rights in a product that is self-replicating can continue to exist beyond the first generation. Reports from oral arguments suggest that the court appears to be siding with Monsanto, supporting arguments in favour of the later generation rights continuing to exist. Abrams suggests that the legal battles over self-replication (for example, in the case of Monsanto crops) and user-replication (in the case of 3D printed goods) may cover similar ground:
In both cases the entity that creates the “first generation” product effectively loses control of that product in the second generation. Once a product hits the mass market customers can and often do use the product as they please, whether that use is legal or not. The corporation’s only recourse in the case of illegal use is a suit.