EFF challenges bogus 3D printing patents

Earlier this month, the Electronic Frontier Foundation asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to turn down six broad, bogus patents on 3D printing that could pave the way for even more patent-trolling on the emerging field of 3D printing. They worked with the Cyberlaw Clinic at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society and Ask Patents, as well as with its own supporters to gather evidence on the prior art that invalidates these applications. It's part of a larger project to systematically challenge patents in emerging fields -- next up is mesh networks -- providing a layer of vigilance and common sense atop the reckless and indifferent patent office.

Here are copies of what we submitted to the Patent Office. The good news is that so far, the Patent Office has accepted our submissions (because of that, if you're thinking of making your own preissuance submissions, you might want to use these as a model). Now we wait to see whether our input influences the examiners.

* Fabrication of Non-Homogeneous Articles Via Additive Manufacturing Using Three-Dimensional Voxel-Based Models

* Build Materials and Applications Thereof

* Method for Generating and Building Support Structures With Deposition-Based Digital Manufacturing Systems

* Process for Producing Three-Dimensionally Shaped Object and Device for Producing Same (Ask Patents request for prior art)

* Additive Manufacturing System and Method for Printing Customized Chocolate Confections (Ask Patents request for prior art)

* Ribbon Filament and Assembly for Use in Extrusion-based Digital Manufacturing Systems (Ask Patents request for prior art)

Our work doesn’t stop here. Next we’re going to investigate a number of pending applications that impact mesh networking technology—another area with an extremely active open development community and with tremendous potential. We’ll be asking you to help us again soon. Stay tuned!

Just one more way that EFF is making the future a better one.

EFF and Partners Challenge Six 3D Printing Patent Applications


  1. Wonderful work you guys are doing here- I think too many people do care about all the issues BB and places like Slashdot cover, but it’s all so overwhelming, most would never have any idea where to start fighting back.

    Evil and apathy have become entrenched in this country, and have married partisan politics and religion, a terrible powderkeg mix for the true loss of freedom for all. Not a day goes by that I don’t see horrifically bad news for civil rights, science progression, or education from Congress.
    I’m so tired of being  subjected to it all, but I know if I can at least keep informed, I’m doing something.

    I am not a lawyer, and I could never begin to navigate the maze of the patent office, or anything else in Washington that congresscritters have effectively made too difficult to comprehend to participate in to the average citizen, let alone one with a recent college degree like me.

    I have seen, with as unbiased eyes as I’ve tried, this country fall horribly low since 9/11 in every conceivable way. I was in high school then, and I knew what was to come. I am sad that I find I was right.

    Americans everywhere, please, regardless of your party, donate to the EFF as I did. Donate to Demand Progress. I couldn’t donate much, as I’m still a student, but dammit, these people are smart. They are doing what you and I cannot understand to do, and fight back on our behalf!

    I don’t care what you believe in- both organizations believe in saner results around the board for all of us.

    I may not be a lawyer, but dammit, if I knew what I could do to end this horrible fall of our culture, I’d give every ounce of life in me every day to do it. Killing people in foreign lands won’t do it. Back-room lobbying won’t do it. A fundamental change in how we approach law, rights, and reason as a people is what we need, and people at the EFF are at the head of that fight right now.

    I hope I live to see the America of real freedom I remember before 9/11 someday. But every day, I die a bit more inside just watching the news. Christian Scientists controlling the funding to real federal science. Patent trolling and copyright issues killing fair use and new innovation we need badly. Public abuse of the law by officers and elected officials who swear on bibles instead of the Constitution. Guantanamo Bay. Extraordinary rendition. Warrantless wiretapping and retroactive immunity illegally for those who do it. NSA data centers and warrantless everything; due process is an afterthought and a joke to everyone but the citizen.

    I’m so tired of waking up to all of this and worse, every goddamn day. Please, I don’t work for them, but donate. It’s the only chance any of us have left for sanity.

    1.  Too late!  I’m already a member with an ongoing contribution.  C’mon BB crowd, freedom needs more than lip service.  Do what you can!  The EFF is your way to be heard!

  2. I am SO bloody sick of phony, money-grubbing lawsuits.   Can we please just close half the law schools to try and control the oversupply of lawyers?  And can some congressperson or senator introduce a bill that would make common sense (at least a part of), the law in this benighted country. 

    Fuck it. I despair.

  3. I am a German and European  patent attorney and I am sometimes wondering what is going to be patented. I am just fighting against 5 patents based on a single U.S. patent on the field of dental appliances. All patents relate to simply rewritten inventions already made in the 1940s in the U.S.. The U.S.P.T.O as an international search authority has completely failed to search for the relevant prior art and the EPO has simply copied the badly done work. Now our (little) client is sued in Germany because he uses prior art from the 1940s and has to nullify the patents before the EPO. It is a time and energy consuming parforce run with an economically risk to loose everything.

    1. “It is a time and energy consuming parforce run with an economically risk to loose everything.”

      It seems to me that this is the point of the whole thing. If you can’t compete with your opponent on even ground in the market, lawyer up, file some patents, claim copyright or trademark and hope you have more money to throw at it than they do.

  4. The sad part is, 3d printing is hip to hipsters. But who will fight the bogus patents that aren’t hip? I wish the world didn’t even need an EFF.

  5. You EFFing rule! Keep up the hard work. One day the world will go the way of India with generic medicines and simply ignore the idiotic US Patent system. It’s a fucking joke.

  6. How does this work now that the US is on a first-to-file system where prior art is no longer considered?

    1. “First-to-file” doesn’t mean what you think it means.  Patent claims must still be found novel and non-obvious in view of the prior art.  Indeed, the new law that implemented “first-to-file” makes more things available as prior art.

  7. Just joined the EFF!!

    Thanks for your orderYour payment of $100.00 USD is complete.You’re now going back to Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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