Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Digital Transformations

Research Handbook on Digital Transformations

Research Handbooks in Business and Management series

Edited by F. Xavier Olleros and Majlinda Zhegu

The digital transition of our economies is now entering a phase of broad and deep societal impact. While there is one overall transition, there are many different sectoral transformations, from health and legal services to tax reports and taxi rides, as well as a rising number of transversal trends and policy issues, from widespread precarious employment and privacy concerns to market monopoly and cybercrime. They all are fertile ground for researchers, as established laws and regulations, organizational structures, business models, value networks and workflow routines are contested and displaced by newer alternatives. This Research Handbook offers a rich and interdisciplinary synthesis of some of the current thinking on the digital transformations underway.

Chapter 12: 3D printing and intellectual property

Lucas Osborn

Subjects: business and management, knowledge management, innovation and technology, innovation policy, knowledge management, technology and ict


This chapter analyses intellectual property (IP) law’s digital future, focusing primarily on the emerging technology of three-dimensional (3D) printing. To date, digital technologies (such as music and image encoding and playback) have overwhelmingly impacted copyright law, with legal battles surrounding the piracy of copyrighted music, books and movies dominating the headlines and literature. After a brief introduction to IP law, this chapter will briefly summarize IP law’s digital past because it contains helpful lessons for its digital future. Unlike the past, however, in which copyright law sustained the brunt of digital challenges, IP law’s digital future will present challenges across the IP spectrum. The remainder of the chapter will consider these challenges. Because the subject is vast and space is limited, the chapter will focus the majority of its analysis on 3D printing’s effects on patent law. It will also briefly outline the challenges other IP laws will face and will conclude by providing thoughts about reacting to these challenges.

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