Is counterfeiting really the BIGGEST deal in 3D printing?
"Counterfeiting is, put simply, a big deal. While 3D printing in particular is still somewhat of a Wild West when it comes to clear definitions of what is and is not IP theft (as a raging argument on Thingiverse/eBay currently has legal professionals and companies weighing in from all sides), faked creations go beyond simply stealing designs, and can lead to implications beyond loss of profit to outright endangerment of life, depending on what exactly is being counterfeited. This has been increasingly begging the question: how will 3D printing combat counterfeiting?"
Judging from our first, preliminary findings, "counterfeiting" may be an even bigger deal than what it sounds from the paragraphs above, but not for those reasons. Let's assume that someone makes a copy of some product exclusively for personal use. Would it still be illegal? In several cases it wouldn't. But even when it would, how could it be ever detected?
Above all, a bigger question is: how would/could/should society, from individuals to insurance companies, react when the "endargement of life" happens when there is nothing illegal (as far as "Intellectual Property" is concerned, or just no counterfeiting at all?
In other words, it seems to us that framing the problem as in that article is probably reductive. Regardless of one's opinion on "Intellectual Property" as such, the biggest issues and dangers may come from other cases.
Please do let us know your opinions and experiences on these issues! We are particularly interested in feedback from makers, lawyers, consumer rights advocated and lawmakers, but everybody is invited to contribute, in or outside the European Union!
Image source: 3D printing virus on Shapeways