I’ve talked about how we’re going to see something big happen in the future when legitimate companies come up against illegal counterfeiters trying to rip off their products using 3D printers.
We’re about to have another war on our hands, but this one isn’t going to involve any guns and bullets. The reason the war is going to happen is because of 3D printers and the future we’re walking into because of them. On one side you have the legitimate companies and on the other side you have the criminal counterfeiters, but let’s take a closer look at what is going to happen and why.
Almost anything is possible
Before you can understand why 3D printers are very dangerous in the wrong hands you need to understand how powerful they are. You will be able to print out almost anything you can imagine and some of the things you print out wouldn’t be possible without a 3D printer. That shows you how much power a counterfeiter will have in their hands. Luckily printers capable of most of those things are still a while away, but eventually they will become a reality.
Protect without compromise
Lawmakers are going to have to protect companies from the dangers that await them. This is going to be very difficult because it’s going to be almost impossible to keep coming up with new laws that protect companies without compromising innovation. At what stage does a product become the exact same as another one? It’s going to become a battle we’ll see played out over the forthcoming years, but they’ll need to start coming up with answers soon.
Copying legitimate products
It’s hard to tell how much the counterfeit industry costs the country every year at the moment, but as soon as mass 3D printing commences that number is surely going to go up. You can understand why the government and people in every industry are worried. Why would the counterfeiters not copy other products when they do it all the time anyway? Except this time if they’re using the same printers they will basically be able to print out very similar products as a legitimate company.
Somehow manufacturers are going to have to come up with a way to stop the counterfeiters. They’ve done it before and bank notes are a great example, but will they be able to do it with 3D printing material? At the moment they’re talking about giving each product a signature by embedding them with invisible nanomaterials that would still be detectable. I’m sure as time goes on they’ll be able to come up with ways to easily identify counterfeits, so the real task might be to stop it from happening.
Getting their stuff in order
There is going to be a new gold rush and companies need to get all their legal stuff in order because they might not be able to do anything about their products getting copied by skilled counterfeiters, but if they have everything in order they’ll be able to fight them in court. We might see a big change in the way the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office do things from now on because they could help in the fight to stop 3D printing becoming an all-out war between manufacturers and counterfeiters.
About the Author: Nancy Baker
The author of this post is Nancy Baker, is a freelance blogger who is currently writing for Artec, specialists in 3D scanners. When she is not busy working, she enjoys painting and decorating her room. You can also follow her on Twitter @Nancy Baker.