One of the major concerns about the future of 3D printing is the protection of IP. According to analysis firm Gartner, “At least one major Western manufacturer will claim to have had intellectual property stolen for a mainstream product by thieves using 3D printers who will likely reside in those same Western markets, rather than in Asia, by 2015,” and that, “The global automotive aftermarket parts, toy, IT and consumer product industries will report intellectual property theft worth at least $15 billion in 2016 due to 3D printing.” Today, former Google and 3D Systems employees have teamed to create a platform for rights management and the distribution of 3D content called Source3.
Source3 was founded by Patrick Sullivan, Ben Cockerham and Scott Sellwood, who established the music licensing and rights management platform RightsFlow that went on to be acquired by Google, along with Tom Kurke and Tom Simon, former employees of 3D software developer Geomagic, eventually purchased by 3D Systems. With background in rights management and 3D printing, along with initial seed funding from VanHam Ventures, Source3 was formed as an enterprise licensing and rights management platform for 3D files. The platform will act as an aggregator of licensed 3D content from brands and designers for potential use in retail and manufacturing marketplaces. With a backend for such retailers and manufacturing sites, Source3 will also allow for the clearing and managing for 3rd party IP for 3D printing, rendering, animation, and more.
Sullivan, CEO of Source3, said of the state of industry and the role of his company, “We see significant friction in this ecosystem, but also tremendous opportunity for industry growth. We saw firsthand how connecting content and technology could drive massive opportunities for monetization and we believe there are substantial parallels in the 3D content industry. We intend to simplify how 3D content is licensed, monetized and produced.” Kurke, the company’s COO, contributed, “Distributing content, and providing a licensing and payment tracking infrastructure, is key to the continuing long term growth in the 3D printing ecosystem.”
Source3 joins the likes of Things3D in the emerging 3D content licensing space. Their British counterpart has already partnered with such brands as Aardman Studios and is in the process of establishing a thread from video games and entertainment to physical merchandise. Source3, however, brings a breadth of expertise to the table. That isn’t to say that we can’t all coexist peacefully, each with our own digital rights platforms for 3D printable content, but that the field is heating up.