July 15, 2013 — Earlier this year, especially during the celebration of World Intellectual Property Day, one of the hot topics was 3D printing. Worldwide, 3D printing and scanning has become a topic of conversation among manufacturers, lawyers, architects, engineers and designers. Recently, we stumbled upon an old video and a photo gallery from Dapeeza Aesthetic Designs, an engineering research and design firm in Nigeria, showcasing a prototype of their architectural designs created via 3D printing.
Although the prototype created by Dapeeza is far from the habitable printed structure that architects in London and Amsterdam are competing to produce, the prototype got us thinking about how equipped Nigerian law is in dealing with issues arising from 3D Printing.
One cannot help but wonder how our IP laws would deal with a situation where an individual creates a downloadable file of a company’s prototype and prints the item for personal use, using one of the available 3D printers. Does this amount to an infringement of the company’s IP Rights?
What if the individual goes ahead and sells printed copies of the prototype, would this commercial use be considered a different scenario? How would similar acts impact on the protection offered by the Patents and Design laws in Nigeria and what role would copyright have in all of this? We don’t have the answers…at least for now.
On the international scene, companies like HBO have issued a cease and desists letter to a 3-D printing and prototyping company called nuPROTO, requesting that nuPROTO desist from producing and offering for sale a 3-D printed iPhone dock, which was modeled after the “Iron Throne” from the HBO TV series, Game of Thrones. According to HBO, notwithstanding the fact that nuPROTO designed and developed the code file for the iPhone dock, all rights to Game of Thrones including characters and objects belong to HBO. nuPROTO subsequently complied with HBO’s request.