Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Digital Technologies
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Research Handbook on Intellectual Property and Digital Technologies

Edited by Tanya Aplin

This Handbook provides a scholarly and comprehensive account of the multiple converging challenges that digital technologies present for intellectual property (IP) rights, from the perspectives of international, EU and US law. Despite the fast-moving nature of digital technology, this Handbook provides profound reflections on the underlying normative legal dilemmas, identifying future problems and suggesting how digital IP issues should be dealt with in the future.
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Chapter 16: Extraterritoriality and digital patent infringement

Timothy R. Holbrook


Additive manufacturing techniques, colloquially known as 3D printing, will increasingly place pressure on the world’s patent systems in a manner akin to the challenges the copyright systems faced due to digital files. Unlike copyright, digital files themselves do not, under present patent law, constitute the patented invention itself. Under current US law, there should be infringement based on the digital files themselves – so-called digital infringement – if someone sells or offers to sell the file that will ‘print’ the patented invention. Additionally, some commentators have called for mechanisms to protect patent holders directly by permitting claims that are specific to digital files. While such digital infringement protects patent owners, it also risks considerable extraterritorial reach for US patents in terms of liability and damages. The chapter explores this dynamic and offers possible mechanisms for addressing these concerns.

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