Liability of platforms

Under certain conditions a 3D printing platform can be liable for infringement of intellectual property rights or otherwise unlawful content. Your platform has to realise the risk of liability and take adequate precautions.

In order to minimize the risk of liability, the platform must deploy a notice and takedown procedure. This is seen as a burden most platforms are not equipped for.

Just a few random examples of infringement and liability:

  • one of your users uploads a design file which is a scan of an IP protected product of someone else;
  • a product design is made but this is too close to earlier IP protected product design;
  • a ready-to-print 3D design of weapons is offered by one of your users for home printing.

And what if your service extends to the manufacturing itself?

Several platforms offer the possibility for users to offer not only the design files but also the ready-made printed products for sale on the platform. In such cases the product ordered is printed (manufactured) by the platform and also shipped by the platform, whilst the legal delivery takes place by the user offering the product design. This could increase the IP liability exposure for the platform considerably. Obviously, this could even add product liability exposure in case of defective products.

Terms of Use not enough

In most cases, the 3D printing platform has a contract in place with its users in which all responsibility and liability is placed with the user. But that is not sufficient and does not take away the necessity of a proper and active notice and takedown procedure.

In any model the importance of a reliable and well-managed and immediately responsive procedure is of the utmost importance.