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3-D Printing Materials You Can't Patent

by jpearce, published

3-D Printing Materials You Can't Patent by jpearce Apr 13, 2013

Description

Broad patent claims on materials for 3-D printing may hamper the open-source 3-D printing community's ability to innovate. This algorithm is presented here as a defensive publication of prior art to help identify obvious materials for 3-D printing.

Patent examiners: Following the non-obvious requirement under patent law, claims on 3-D printing materials that can be generated with the algorithm presented below should be denied and existing patents based on materials that can be generated from this algorithm should be revoked as they would be obvious to any materials scientist with a rudimentary understanding of 3-D printing.

Makers: You are encouraged to use/share/develop materials for 3-D printing that can be generated by the algorithm. Being identified as obvious does not prohibit sale of the materials. We undoubtedly missed some clauses-€œ if so please add them to the comments. We,MOST, are currently developing an academic article on the effects of IP on 3-D printing and the role that theories of algorithms for innovation play in validating IP. We will list any substantive contributors in the acknowledgments of the paper.

Recent Comments

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But something published, no matter where, can be a reason to deny or successfully contest a patent, so there's that.
no, he tries to plug a giant shortcoming of the patent process: the ability to get a patent based on formulaic, vague, generic and combinatorial claims. The premise is that by generating a body of claims that is just as vague and encompassing, it would invalidate any patents filed later that would include similar claims. I fear that premise is wrong, but it is a small effort in case it would work.

In that vein, wouldn't it be better to make a similar algorithm, but give it existing patent claims as input?

And if you develop a new feedstock, you can certainly produce it and make a profit with it. Just keep the composition a secret. You should not get a monopoly/patent on that material, process or method though, because it needlessly stifles innovation.

Patents were intended to work against trade secrets, you got a monopoly for a limited time in exchange for publishing your secrets. The published secrets, the patent claims, have degenerated into a form that is mostly useless for any researcher/inventor. On the other hand, trade secrets are less of a problem as reverse engineering is much more capable and there are other ways to convince companies to share their secrets (open source, it works!).
Also include the whole application fields: 3D printing in medicine, biology, chemistry, geology etc.

For biology/medicine you should include materials that promote or decrease gel formation, extra-cellular-matrix formation, protein immobilisation, growth-factor immobilisation, cell-differentiation-fate, cell adhesion or repulsion, cell division, migration or apoptosis,

As for environments you should include printing inside the living body of humans, mamals, animals and plants, printing directly in human, mammal or animal organs[list of specific organs + unmentioned ones] , using 3D printing to recreate/regenerate (parts of) said organs or analogues that serve the same function.

Also include 3D printing to heal/repair diseases or averse conditions of said organs, or 3D printing of moulds or aids to assist in said recreation/regeneration/repair/healing of said organs.
Perhaps you should also put subtractive technologies in the mix, like milling, sawing, cutting, grinding, burning, ablating, vaporising, ... combined with 3D printing and or all of the above...

And spread the final pseudo-patent all over the web, if there is no national or international repository for prior art you would need to get your ideas published in as many places as possible to deter as many patents as possible.

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Instructions

Notes:
There is a persistent widespread belief that intellectual property law (and patents in particular) encourage innovation. This is intuitive, however, the evidence to the contrary is now overwhelming and the unavoidable conclusion is that intellectual property actually stifles innovation. For those of us in open-source 3-D printing this is fairly obvious – when the patent ran out which enabled the RepRap project to be born, there was an explosion of innovation that continues to accelerate in an open-source ecosystem supporting dozens of businesses. Some fields are not so lucky, such as nanotechnology, where a patent thicket has developed with a large number of overlapping claims on “building block” technologies that prevent innovations from reaching the market. For more information on that acute intellectual property tragedy (see: http://www.academia.edu/2174920/Make_nanotechnology_research_open-source -click on the Nature.com link to get an open access version). For a good summary of the literature on intellectual property and innovation in general from two economists see: Against Intellectual Monopoly by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine http://levine.sscnet.ucla.edu/general/intellectual/againstnew.htm

How to use the algorithm:

Variables and definitions:
@ = “All of the preceding materials and”
& = “All combinations of all possible mol fractions of the above” (e.g. [1] chemicals a+b, a+c, a+b+c, etc. until all combinations have been reached over the set up to N+M and [2] all fractions so that compound [ax][b1-x] would be stepped through from x=0 to 1 under all percentages)
N = the total number of natural chemicals and compounds including the entire set of elements in the periodic table
M = the total number of man-made chemicals. This includes, but is not limited to, the entire CAS REGISTRY (https://www.cas.org/content/chemical-substances), which is the most authoritative collection of disclosed chemical substance information, containing more than 71 million organic and inorganic substances and 64 million sequences.
Functional agent = any chemical species that provides some form of beneficial property of the 3-D printing material. For example this includes (but is not limited to) species to improve rheological properties, melting temperature, setting time, hydrodynamics (e.g. hydrophobicity, hydrophillicity, etc.) electromagnetic properties (e.g. phosphorescence, color, light transmission, reflection and refraction etc.), chemical properties (e.g. reactivity, smell, catalytic activity, etc.), mechanical properties (e.g. strength, flexibility, stiffness, fracture toughness, etc.), thermal properties (e.g. thermal conductivity, thermoluminescence, etc.), magnetic properties, and electrical properties, etc. (For other material properties see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_materials_properties )

Materials capable of being used as 3-D printed feedstock include:

  1. Known natural chemicals and compounds including all organic and inorganic substances
  2. @ & from 1 to N
  3. @ known man-made chemicals, compounds, and metamaterials including all organic and inorganic substances
  4. @ & from 1 to M
  5. @ & from 1 to NM
  6. @ & where 1 to NM acts as a functional agent
  7. @ & where any natural or manmade material is controlled for size from 1 Angstrom to 1 m in dimension (e.g. to account for any size related physical or chemical property change as is well established at the nanoscale)
  8. @ & any arrangement of the combinations (e.g. superlattices, metamaterials, core in shell quantum dots, etc.)
  9. @ & where a nanoscale collection of atoms (e.g. nanocrystal, quantum dot, nanotube, nanocolum, etc.) is used as a functional agent or filler
  10. @ & where the shape of the collection of atoms is altered to adjust properties (thus all geometric shapes, and all known complex shapes capable of being generated by a mathematical algorithm (e.g. fractals))
  11. @ & where the surfaces (both internal voids or external surfaces) are adjusted (e.g. roughening) to adjust properties.
  12. @ & at any temperature from 0 K to infinity (or any sequence or combination of temperature)
  13. @ & at any pressure from 0 bar to infinity (or any sequence or combination of pressure)
  14. @ & printed in any environmental medium [NM] (meaning that some 3-D printing materials may need to be used under vacuum, under water, etc.)
  15. @ & printed with the assistance of electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength.
  16. @ & printed with the assistance of any solvent from N or M or combination of the above.
  17. @ & for any physical orientation of the chemical species.
  18. @ & for any N or M or combination that acts as a catalyst during the printing process.
  19. @ & for any field catalyzed reaction (e.g. magnetic).
  20. @ any order of the above.
Also include the whole application fields: 3D printing in medicine, biology, chemistry, geology etc.

For biology/medicine you should include materials that promote or decrease gel formation, extra-cellular-matrix formation, protein immobilisation, growth-factor immobilisation, cell-differentiation-fate, cell adhesion or repulsion, cell division, migration or apoptosis,

As for environments you should include printing inside the living body of humans, mamals, animals and plants, printing directly in human, mammal or animal organs[list of specific organs + unmentioned ones] , using 3D printing to recreate/regenerate (parts of) said organs or analogues that serve the same function.

Also include 3D printing to heal/repair diseases or averse conditions of said organs, or 3D printing of moulds or aids to assist in said recreation/regeneration/repair/healing of said organs.
Perhaps you should also put subtractive technologies in the mix, like milling, sawing, cutting, grinding, burning, ablating, vaporising, ... combined with 3D printing and or all of the above...

And spread the final pseudo-patent all over the web, if there is no national or international repository for prior art you would need to get your ideas published in as many places as possible to deter as many patents as possible.
Also include the whole application fields: 3D printing in medicine, biology, chemistry, geology etc.

For biology/medicine you should include materials that promote or decrease gel formation, extra-cellular-matrix formation, protein immobilisation, growth-factor immobilisation, cell-differentiation-fate, cell adhesion or repulsion, cell division, migration or apoptosis,

As for environments you should include printing inside the living body of humans, mamals, animals and plants, printing directly in human, mammal or animal organs[list of specific organs + unmentioned ones] , using 3D printing to recreate/regenerate (parts of) said organs or analogues that serve the same function.

Also include 3D printing to heal/repair diseases or averse conditions of said organs, or 3D printing of moulds or aids to assist in said recreation/regeneration/repair/healing of said organs.
Perhaps you should also put subtractive technologies in the mix, like milling, sawing, cutting, grinding, burning, ablating, vaporising, ... combined with 3D printing and or all of the above...

And spread the final pseudo-patent all over the web, if there is no national or international repository for prior art you would need to get your ideas published in as many places as possible to deter as many patents as possible.
You format this as a patent claims list, but this is not a patent. The patent office does not do an exhaustive prior arts research, and it is always limited to the existing body of patents. So this might be a bit off the mark?
But something published, no matter where, can be a reason to deny or successfully contest a patent, so there's that.
So essentially, the whole field of Material Science Engineering should not exist? I don't agree with this whatsoever. Also, you misunderstand the patent process, especially in this field. Usually, it is the process that is patented. This is not prior art - anyone can see that.

Do people on this website really believe that if I design a great new feedstock, I should not be able to profit from it? Because what is posted here directly contradicts that. I would like to debate this rationally if anyone is willing.

Also, material patents != software patents.
no, he tries to plug a giant shortcoming of the patent process: the ability to get a patent based on formulaic, vague, generic and combinatorial claims. The premise is that by generating a body of claims that is just as vague and encompassing, it would invalidate any patents filed later that would include similar claims. I fear that premise is wrong, but it is a small effort in case it would work.

In that vein, wouldn't it be better to make a similar algorithm, but give it existing patent claims as input?

And if you develop a new feedstock, you can certainly produce it and make a profit with it. Just keep the composition a secret. You should not get a monopoly/patent on that material, process or method though, because it needlessly stifles innovation.

Patents were intended to work against trade secrets, you got a monopoly for a limited time in exchange for publishing your secrets. The published secrets, the patent claims, have degenerated into a form that is mostly useless for any researcher/inventor. On the other hand, trade secrets are less of a problem as reverse engineering is much more capable and there are other ways to convince companies to share their secrets (open source, it works!).
I am afraid I was not clear. Of course material science and engineering should exist! The idea is to prevent broad patenting from making it impossible for the rest of us to develop new printing materials. You are free to develop any great new feedstock that you like and sell as much of it as you can. What I am hoping this approach does is eliminate the lock down of the whole field. The patent system now currently allows the roadblocking of entire swaths of materials science - -usually by more than one overlapping patent.

See for example patent: EP 1628823 B1 "Thermoplastic powder material system for appearance models from 3d printing systems"...it's first claim is:

"A powder adapted for three-dimensional printing, the powder comprising:
a loose and free-flowing particulate mixture comprising: at least 50% by weight of a thermoplastic particulate material
selected from the group consisting of acetal polyoxymethylene,
polylactide, ethylene vinyl acetate, polyphenylene ether,
ethylene-acrylic acid copolymer, polyether block amide, polyvinylidene
fluoride, polyetherketone, polybutylene terephthalate, polyethylene
terephthalate, polycyclohexylenemethylene terephthalate, polyphenylene
sulfide, polythalamide, polymethylmethacrylate, polysulfones,
polyethersulfones, polyphenylsulfones, polyacrylonitrile,
poly(acrulonitrile-butadiene-styrene), polyamides, polystyrene,
polyolefin, polyvinyl butyral, polycarbonate, polyvinyl chlorides, ethyl
cellulose, cellulose acetate cellulose xanthate, and combinations, and
copolymers thereof; and no more than 30% by weight of"....and on and on... See the problem? I think using thermoplastics in a particulate form with a binder for 3-D printing is obvious and not because I read the patent and I have 20/20 hindsight - but because the idea could be easily generated by a simple algorithm.
I do see what you're saying, but I'm not sure how likening the idea to an "algorithm" is valid. The algorithm, or systematic steps or procedures is what patents in this field cover. For example, a new way to create High Fructose Con Syrup would be patentable. Also, that patent is pretty much invalidated, seeing how using a thermoplastic and binder has been standard practice for anyone involved in 3-D printing. I am not a lawyer (engineer), but I am sure you could find a well-meaning patent attorney on Hacker News or Groklaw if you are especially interested in preventative measures for patent lock-in. Who knows, maybe your above method is actually correct! I am very interested in this field, and will continue to follow it. Thank you for your efforts.
To enhance the chance of this being accepted of prior art you might want to publish it on ip.com/
Thank you - this is a great idea. As this costs money - I will wait to do it until this idea has been fortified a bit by the community - it is not clear to me for example if I need to write a script to actually type out all the combinations of all the known chemicals, etc.
yes, I think you need to generate all combinations. After all, lawyers are paid per hour, and reading more pages==more time. Also explain your claims algorithm at the top to stop normal people waste too much time.
great work. thank you!
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