Thanks to “creative” patents, The Electronic Frontier Foundation is planning for a future when 3D printing could no longer be free.
According to TechCrunch, since the technology is rather new, patenting parts of the 3D printing process or renewing expiring patents could prevent improvement of the technology out of fear or patent infringement. The EFF wants to make sure this doesn’t happen.
The EFF has a fairly simple proposal, but it will take a lot of work. They want people to provide prior art when it comes to 3D printing design and manufacture. They will search the patent records for potential problems and then, once they’ve gotten everything together, they’ll need your help figuring out what can and can’t be patented.
“Once target applications are identified, we will seek out relevant prior art. We’ll be asking for your help again then, so please watch this space. Any document that was publicly available before an application was filed is considered prior art; this can include emails to public lists, websites, and even doctoral theses. Because of the time limit, once we identify the target applications, we must complete the prior art search quickly.”
You can help the EFF by visiting this website and emailing them if you’ve found any applications that could or should be challenged.
New technology often suffers because of early and egregious patenting. The internet has been cluttered by people creating obvious patents, that the USPTO is not able to check, in the course of building out infrastructure and applications.
Let’s not let that happen to 3D printing.