On 3D printing, ‘Game of Thrones’ and copyright

Last year, we wrote about how 3D printing could be a boon to copyright lawyers. That day could be here any second, judging from a recent exchange between an iPhone dock maker and the maker of “Game of Thrones.”

HBO cried copyright infringement on Fernando Sosa, whose small company sold an iPhone dock inspired by the hit TV series, and demanded that he halt sales. Sosa complied and issued refunds, according to Bloomberg.

Legal experts quoted in the article warn of a rising tide in copyright fights as 3D printing gets cheaper — well, printing with plastics, that is; using liquid metal costs a lot more— and it becomes easier for the masses to make their own stuff. “We’re at the tipping point. If you’re a manufacturer and people start making their own replacement parts, what does that mean?” Darrell Mottley, a patent and trademark attorney in Washington, told Bloomberg.

Some creators are perfectly willing to share their blueprints — such as Defense Distributed, which made a 3D-printed gun — and, as the Bloomberg article mentions, Nokia encourages the printing of custom cases for its phones.

But copyright battles are inevitable, and the Bloomberg article notes that some startups are being founded with those in mind. They include Mountain View-based Authentise, which says on its website that it’s helping companies get ready for the 3D-printing “revolution” in manufacturing by serving as an exchange for design files. It looks like the revolution could benefit others besides lawyers.


Photo: Peter Dinklage as Tyrion in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” (Handout/Bay Area News Group archives)


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