Just as digital music sharing led to a plethora of lawsuits regarding infringement, use of increasingly affordable 3 D printers is expected to lead to copyright and trademark violation suits.

The new 3D printer technology allows one to download a design file and produce a plastic copy of an object.  At what point does one run afoul of the designer’s rights? Does IP protection, specifically copyright protection, extend to design files?  Michael Weinberg has written an interesting white paper discussing this subject. Expect more on this in the next few years.