USPTO Additive Manufacturing Meeting Recap
The US Patent and Trademark Office held a meeting today of the Additive Manufacturing Partnership. The open sessions seemed to be informative as a 3d printing introduction, but with an unclear overall purpose. Presenters on behalf of Stratasys and 3D Systems talked about their technology, outlining some of their patent portfolios and how their patents allowed them to dominate the 3d printing marketplace while they were in effect. Now that many of the formative patents have expired, newcomers are flooding the market with new innovations.
Shapeways outlined their business, but offered little during their presentation on patent and trademark issues they face. In discussion during time between presentations, they revealed they frequently deal with trademark issues, especially from users uploading 3d models directly from videogames. In general, they remove items from sale until a dispute is resolved, and Shapeways facilitates communication between the seller and rights holder.
The USPTO presenters talked about how they try to educate their patent examiners and welcomed input from the industry in guidance and public education. They will be releasing a tv special on 3d printing in the coming months.
Overall, the feeling seemed to be that the companies involved both relish their own patents and hate the limitations enforced by the patents of their competitors. We left the meeting feeling that all the parties involved had their own focus, and aligning the interests would be difficult if not impossible.