In the second edition of 3D fab+print magazine the authors examined CAD files from different legal perspectives. The analysis centered on the copyright law context, while the relevance of other IP rights with regard to creating, using, and commercializing CAD files as well as 3D-printed products was only touched upon. Building on that, the third article of this series addresses legal aspects with regards to protection against an imitation of products by means of 3D scanning and 3D printing. As far as protection against imitation is concerned, the authors first address selected patent law issues. Competition law and its relation to copyright and patent law will be discussed as this article’s focus, as well as the question of what kind of protection the law awards to companies against product piracy. While this analysis is in principle based on German law, the legal considerations can essentially also apply to other (European) legal systems.
By way of introduction, it has to be pointed out that the term ‘Competition Law’ must not be confused with ‘Antitrust Law’: Antitrust Law concerns (government) regulation of a market with companies in a dominant position, in order to ensure fair competition. It does not serve, however, to sanction the imitation of a product by means of injunctions, claims to information and damage claims. Antitrust Law seeks to institute and preserve unhindered and free competition, while Competition Law’s purpose is to ensure compliance with competition rules within a free, already functioning competition.
Originally published in 3D fab+print Magazine, January/February 2016, pp. 22-26.