The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) have identified 3D printing as an technology where opportunistic patents may stifle innovation and is fighting back by challenging several applications.
After partnering with Ask Patents for help on researching prior art relating to an application from Stratasys for 3D printing of chocolate, five other applications were identified by the Cyberlaw Clinic at Havard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Ask Patents and the internet community. After the Cyberlaw Clinic delivered two submissions to the Patent Office earlier this year, the EFF have submitted prior art documents relating to four more patent applications to the Patent Office for consideration. The applications range from building support structures, creating wax parts in layers to 3D printing in chocolate as mentioned previously.
“If there’s something that drives us crazy, it’s when patents get in the way of innovation.”, Julie Samuels, EFF
A prior art document can help persuade the Patent Office reject an application for obviousness, and the PO has accepted their submissions relating to the following applications:
- Fabrication of Non-Homogeneous Articles Via Additive Manufacturing Using Three-Dimensional Voxel-Based Models
- Build Materials and Applications Thereof
- Method for Generating and Building Support Structures With Deposition-Based Digital Manufacturing Systems
- Process for Producing Three-Dimensionally Shaped Object and Device for Producing Same (Ask Patents request for prior art)
- Additive Manufacturing System and Method for Printing Customized Chocolate Confections (Ask Patents request for prior art)
- Ribbon Filament and Assembly for Use in Extrusion-based Digital Manufacturing Systems (Ask Patents request for prior art)
The EFF and Ask Patents are hopeful that their prior art submissions will influence the examiners, but they are not stopping there. They are encouraging more 3D printing patent applications to be identified for prior art submissions, and are to continue their patent campaign with an investigation into applications related to mesh networking.