However, as additive manufacturing and 3D printing continue to grow in popularity as a means of production, a more compelling angle on the legalities of intellectual property (IP) is emerging.
The twitter-sphere is awash with the news that conflict has arisen within the 3D Printing world over rights to IP pertaining to a 3D design made available online for 3D printing. The full story is documented well by Peter Hanna, here: http://goo.gl/fb/8C1xS. The problem seems to have been resolved with minimal pain but one can't help but think this is just the beginning. Furthermore, the feral nature of the legal profession (it won't take long for the $$ signs to light up their eyes) will not aid online 3D printing organisations, who will need to take serious measures to avoid being taken down by threats of real (or perceived) IP infringement. In real terms, this will increase the costs for the supplier and, therefore, the purchaser of 3D printed goods. You only need to consider your motor insurance premiums to see how that particular scenario can play out.
Protecting intellectual property is important, I am not dismissing the issue in any way, but it will be a precarious balancing act for burgeoning organisations, which could well inflict limitations on how the market develops.