The big question is who owns 3D printing. 3D printing designs are highly assessable on many different websites. This quandary raises intellectual property concerns. Two major leaders in 3D printing, Stratsys and 3D Systems have begun to use their patents.
Additionally, designers offer their 3D objects in the Creative Commons, a website where objects are for all to use freely, and are upset when users offer those designs for sale. There are accusations that the ideas are stolen from the community. The heart of the issue is the patenting of ideas rather than the ideas themselves.
Additive manufacturing companies should be aware of where they are getting designs from. There is potential for litigation if a company is unaware of a design patent.
Also if you are a designer, you have to decide whether or not you want your work product protected. Now, there is a free flow of information, but there is a risk of someone else taking your idea and selling it. If you are designing something and putting it on the open forum, you must be cognizant of all risks involved.
For more information, contact the Ice Miller.
To learn more visit: http://techcrunch.com/2014/05/27/the-next-open-source-battle-is-being-waged-in-the-3d-printing-industry/