EFF Fight for Open 3D Printing

Consumer rights and patent issues are an ongoing hot topic across the internet community as well as for new emerging digital industries that include 3D printing. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was founded in 1990 to confront any cutting edge issues and defend free speech, privacy innovation and consumer rights across the board. EFF is now working towards ensuring that improvidently granted patents don’t threaten the exciting and fast growing 3D printing technology.

One element of their work entails close cooperation with the  the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, which is working towards challenging a number of such dangerous patent applications at the Patent Office. The current patent application process relies on a fairly new legal procedure called Preissuance Submissions, which according to EFF is a welcome step towards opening up the system to those who might not be filing patents themselves, but who are affected by the patent system every day.

PatentThe challenge with this process is that it is still difficult to search the Patent Office’s website for pending applications and identify applications that are potentially posing a danger to a growing technology such as 3D printing. Most importantly the process is clunky for uncovering and submitting helpful information during the short, open window of opportunity.

EFF has now partnered with Ask Patents to tackle these issues and is now introducing the basic crowd-sourcing principles to prevent questionable patent applications being completed. Citizen volunteers and other interested parties can now ask about any applications that they think are suspicious. Others can answer and up-vote or down-vote to rate any examples of information found by fellow volunteers.

This is an exiting way to take advantage of the new Preissuance Submissions project and each of us can now have an impact on any potentially harmful patents going through the process. EFF has now submitted its first three applications relating to 3D printing at Ask Patents, which you can view below.

CALL FOR PRIOR ART: 3D Printing application “Process for Producing Three-dimensionally Shaped Object and Device for Producing Same” (13/503217): 

CALL FOR PRIOR ART: 3D Printing application “Additive Manufacturing System and Method for Printing Customized Chocolate Confections” (13/432424):

CALL FOR PRIOR ART: 3D Printing application “Ribbon Filament and Assembly for Use in Extrusion-based Digital Manufacturing Systems” (13/530191):

If you have feedback on this new initiative please do let us know.

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation