Yargh! Piracy and Intellectual Property in the 3D-Printing Era

Counterfeiting is the world’s second-oldest profession. An estimated $220 million of U.S. currency is counterfeit. By comparison, according to the OECD, about 2.5 percent of goods, or $461 billion, are fake.

When it comes to counterfeiting, the usual items come to mind: handbags, clothing, toys, and money. Indeed, the ease of counterfeiting currency with 2D inkjet printing led one Secret Service agent to lament forgery as a “lost art.” But now that 3D printing is increasingly used to produce goods ranging from airplane parts to fine art, a whole new market is ripe for fakery.

Fortunately for 3D printing and intellectual-property rights, a few companies and scholars are already on the case.

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