Well this sucks - 3D printing hits a roadblock

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Talk about hamstringing a nascent industry -- from Tech - the future:
Patent Could Cripple The 3D Printing Revolution
3D printers allow users to print 3D objects from a digital design. Once the technology hits the mainstream it will likely be as disruptive to manufacturing as sharable digital files are to the music, movie and publishing industry. Once technology enabled decentralized, low- or no-cost (re)production, these industries saw their control over their products and the market rapidly evaporate.

It will probably be no different for manufacturers of goods. Instead of buying a coffee mug that was designed in Paris, manufactured in Shenzhen and shipped to your place of residence, 3D printing will allow you to download the design of a mug and have your printer produce it for you.

DRM for 3D printers
If digital file sharing is any indication of how the 3D printing revolution will unfold stakeholders will divide into two camps: there�ll be those who embrace the shift to an economy of abundance and build new businesses on it, like Spotify and Bittorrent. And there�ll be those who�ll try to maintain the scarcity model. Either by litigation, policy making or modifying the technology.

A patent issued by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office to Intellectual Ventures on October 9th, squarely falls into the latter category. Patent 8,286,236 is basically a Digital Rights Management technology for 3D printers and other manufacturing methods. DRM restricts the use and distribution of copyrighted content by utilizing techniques like encryption or watermarking.

Intellectual Ventures patented what they call a Manufacturing Control System. For it to work the system has to be built into the printer where it is assigned a policing function. When a digital design or CAD-file is uploaded to the printer, the system checks the file against an online database for authorization codes. If the printer has no authorization to print the file, the system prevents it from executing it.
Intellectual Ventures is a company that is very much ill-liked in the tech world. They produce nothing, they just file for and buy patents and then shake down manufacturers for licensing fees. From the article:
Patents patented by a patent troll
There is some irony in Intellectual Ventures being issued the patent to protect patents. The company doesn�t actually make anything. All it does is filing for and buying up patents in order to exact licensing fees from other companies who do invest in research and development. Its business model makes other tech companies see red and has earned it the title �biggest patent troll on the planet�. The company is considered by many to represent everything that is wrong with the patent system.
Nathan Myhrvold is a pure genius but his business ethics need serious examination. I am all for making money but this should be done the old fashioned way -- you earn it. Come up with a product that people want and sell it to them for an honest price -- it worked for you when you were starting Microsoft. Have you forgotten your hacker roots?

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on October 19, 2012 5:08 PM.

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