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.
Mark P. McKenna and Lucas S. Osborn
This chapter explores the American and European experiences with respect to trademark protection in the context of digital goods such as 3D printable files and digitally distributed movies and songs. In the digital world, design and production can increasingly be separated. That has potentially destabilizing consequences for trademark law, which has historically been oriented toward indications of the origin of physical goods. Digitization also puts much more pressure on the boundaries between trademark, copyright and design laws, particularly in cases in which parties assert trademark claims against others based on the content of digital files. We note the greater frequency of such claims in the US and offer some hypotheses about the lack of those claims in Europe.