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Just As Key 3D Printing Patents Get Closer To Expiring, Intellectual Ventures Patents 3D Printing DRM

from the good-luck-with-that dept

3D printing is on the verge of really going mainstream, in part because of improvements in the technology, but in large part because the key patents that have limited that advancement are getting close to expiring. Of course, as it takes off, though, expect a ton of people to try to “tax” the success with new patents of their own. And, of course, it comes as little surprise that Intellectual Ventures will be a player in that space. Though its first attempt might backfire… Technology Review has a story about Intellectual Ventures getting a new patent on DRM for 3D printing. You can see the patent (8,286,236) yourself. It’s a pretty broad patent that seems to cover a broad array of “authorization” measures for manufacturing based on a data file.

We’ve talked in the past about how patents too often get granted for taking something known or common and basically saying “on the internet” on it. Perhaps the next wave of patents will be the same kinda thing, but “… with 3D printing.” Of course, patenting DRM might actually have a good, if unintended, result: perhaps it will scare people and companies away from making the mistake of trying to DRM up 3D printing files, and leave the system much more open. Though, given the historical comparisons, that seems unlikely…

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Companies: intellectual ventures

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Comments on “Just As Key 3D Printing Patents Get Closer To Expiring, Intellectual Ventures Patents 3D Printing DRM”

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Anonymous Coward says:


Other than Lego and the like, how many have patents on their designs. If you can’t enforce your rights how can you enforce DRM? If a manufacturer produces a toy tractor and I copy it for my boy whose rights did I infringe? Will manufacturing patents that require totally different tooling apply to the finished products regardless of how it was finished?

The original article notes that you can’t copyright physical objects. Blueprints and drawings from a design are copyrightable as I understand it. And any object produced may infringe on the design itself. I just can’t reproduce the rendering of the object.

Anonymous Coward says:

This has got to be the most hairbrained patent ever. Verifying digital rights on a file has absolutely nothing to do with what the file might be used for. DRM works the same way regardless of a file’s name, extension, or intended use.

This is a 57-part patent making 57 separate claims, each of which applies to binary files used in a wide variety of processes, “attaching, printing, painting, engraving and/or tattooing”. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as digital tattooing, but hey, it’s now patented, in 57 different ways!

orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: 'digital tattoo'

This is quite possibly a reference to the practice of adding a unique ID code of some sort to electronic machines. See motherboard tattoo and CODE PURPLE.

This does things like ensure you use exactly the disc that came with a computer to reinstall an OS, or make the whole machine have fits if you just need to replace the HDD or add expansion cards.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Replicator Impairment

Maybe not enough coffee yet, but I see these attacks on 3D printing as deprecation on our path to a replicator ala Star Trek (I never did quite understand why they couldn’t just replicate whatever spare part they needed (“Cook me up a new core so we can eject the current one and it’ll be like adding nitrous to a 21rst century street racer!”)).

Or will we see legacy players doing everything they can to prevent such development? What would manufacturing and food production look like in such a world, one with a replicator affordable enough that they are like hand held calculators available for $2.00 to us today.

If we take manufacturing (I suppose someone will have to build replicators until that time when they build a replicator function into our replicators) and food production out of the workforce what will we do with our (by then) 10 billion inhabitants?

Since there will be no ‘work’ left, everyone (not charged with maintaining replicators) will be in the entertainment business or making new designs to feed into the worlds replicators (micro-payments to the developer?).

Given all that and other nightmare scenarios I am imagining, I still want my replicator…now!

/end nightmare

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Replicator Impairment

Well, you still need raw material. You can always recycle what you don’t need or is broken and feed it to the replicator. Then you will still need to maintain other machinery that is not cost effective to replicate. I’m sure it will require energy to rearrange all that matter to useful material and produce something. I don’t see the workforce drying up anytime soon. Someone has to visually inspect the road-layer to make sure it says on its apporved course. Besides, there will always be work at the post office, even if it only requires teleporting a package to Tau-Alpha 7.

Anonymous Coward says:

Having scanned the patent it is a long winded attempt to patent any form of drm or production authorization used in conjunction with any computer controlled machine. It simply enumerates all the machine types and authorization techniques that IV could think off. It pads out with descriptions of the components of a work station, network architecture and other details that have nothing to do with its subject matter.
It is a good example of how to say little with the maximum number of words. I suspect that reading it in detail broke the patent examiners brain, and that is why it was granted, he/she did not want to see it resubmitted with minor tweaks.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Customization versus Intellectual Property.

What custom manufacturing, in whatever form, is really useful for is to adapt to the fact that people come in different sizes and shapes.

Looking at what I actually did in the last couple of weeks, I note that I had occasion to take a pair of great heavy boots in to the cobbler, for new soles and heels. Inclusive of taxicab fare, this came to something in excess of a hundred dollars. I had originally bought the boots for a hundred and sixty dollars, at the local Red Wing store, and these are of course boots of the plainest possible description, with no decorative tooling or anything like that. At the time of purchase, the cobbler had done about a hundred dollars worth of custom-tailoring, if one can apply that word to boot leather, that is, lengthening the shaft to knee height, inserting additional rubber in the insole to bring it up to the level of a running shoe, and inserting a corrective wedge in the heel, as my ankles have a tendency to bow outwards when walking on hillsides. These are things which the manufacturer could have done without any great difficulty, if it had been geared to talking with the customer, rather than selling a standard style and size on a “take-it-or-leave-it” basis, through a multi-tier dealer-distributor network. I suppose that plastic prototypes could have been used to facilitate fitting and custom manufacture. However, for the present, plastic is not a satisfactory substitute for leather.

Before buying two pairs of boots, I went in and had a talk with the cobbler, saying, “since you are going to be repairing the things, how do you feel about Red Wing’s current product? Have they been doing anything you don’t approve of?” We both knew that a maker of premium boots is under temptation to “monetize” its reputation by covertly substituting plastic for leather, the way Frye’s did, back around 1980. He assured me that Red Wing’s reputation was still good, that they hadn’t changed anything, and that the local Red Wing dealer (which is also the local military surplus store) was okay, and I went off to place an order for boots. I’ve been wearing the same general type of boots for the last forty years, and the same brand for the last twenty. Boots of a broadly similar type can be found in illustrations dating back to at least the 1630’s, more than three hundred and fifty years ago. In this context, intellectual property simply doesn’t mean much of anything. What matters is fit and workmanship.

To Anonymous Coward, #17.

The quality of the raw material matters. The term “shoddy” has an interesting history. It originally referred to a kind of recycled cotton waste. During the American Civil War (1861-65), contractors, intent on making a quick buck, spun and wove the shoddy up into cloth, dyed it Army Blue, and made it into uniforms. When worn by troops in the field, in the rain and the mud, the fabric tended to disintegrate. The Army remembers, of course, and is famously sticky about what it buys. Army surplus clothing is famous for being hard-wearing.

There are of course horror stories, like the one in the Technology Review comments about the man whose $12,000 paper-cutting machine was crippled for want of a plastic knob, and the manufacturers of the machine merely saw that as an opportunity to exploit him financially, at the expense of their own long-term reputation.

Mark says:

Nice Try Buttheads....

The patent claims invention of a concept that has been obliterated by defacto practice for decades.
The ITEM being manufactured has a “key” identifier or data object within the digital file that corresponds/is verified by the manufacturing “machine” before production. Can you say code signing?

GOOD FUCKING LUCK enforcing that one.

Intellectual Ventures is a parasitic organization. They make money off of threats and lawsuit settlements.

Mr.Mohsin (user link) says:

Leather Manufacturer Producer & Exporter.

Khawaja Tanneries(Pvt)Ltd is specialized in producing excellent varieties in COW & BUFFALO and enjoying 1.5 Million production capacity per month in Square Feet.Through time, our business has gradually broadened towards the various countries world-wide such as China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Russia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, USA, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy, France, Spain, Poland, South Africa, Germany andcomplete many other countries around the world.We also have developed quality standardization and remarkable service level to ensure customer satisfactiona

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