During the annual meeting of the international trademark owners association Marques in Vienna, I had the honour and pleasure of giving a presentation on 3D printing and additive manufacturing. After the introductions of Giordano Cardini, Hande Hançer and me, we had a lively panel discussion moderated by Elisabeth Zakl-Buchner. During the session a live 3D printing demo took place on stage printing a small – but infringing – Coca Cola bottle.
3D printing technology is iconic for the ongoing digitization of our society and can shake up supply chains, changing roles and legal paradigms in certain industries.
The technology is already broadly applied in prototyping. But especially for the purpose of customization and personalized products, such as in healthcare but also in consumer products, and small volume or on demand production, this technology is likely to become mainstream. No doubt mass production will continue using previously existing means of production like injection moulding, at least for the coming years. The same probably applies to food, although printing of food may become successful as well.
And in heavy and high-tech industry metal printing is gaining importance with the introduction of high-end additive manufacturing machines, like the Metalfab1 of our client Additive Industries this summer.
The technology also introduces new legal concerns, foremost in view of IP, liability and warranty. Also brand owners at least need to be aware of the developments and the potential consequences for their business.
Shift simply happens overnight. Rapid changes are all around, such as Uber, AirBnB and other new models and technologies. So, better reconsider your position and be prepared than being caught by surprise.