Feeds

Übertroll firm bags DRM patent for 3D printing

Patent hoarder Myhrvold & Co. could control nascent tech

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A division of Intellectual Ventures, the IP-holding company founded by Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's former CTO, has been granted a patent on a system for introducing digital rights management (DRM) controls to 3D printing.

Under the system described in the patent, files containing plans for printed objects would be encased in a digital envelope that would check if the original designer had either given permission for the plans to be used or been paid for their product. Software to handle this would be embedded in 3D printers to make sure they couldn't produce unauthorized copies.

While the 3D-printing industry is still in its infancy, the patent highlights one of the major concerns about the technology for commercial manufacturers. It's likely that in the years to come, not only plastic items, but also guns, robots and even human tissues will be printed using such systems, and the technology could enable piracy on a whole new scale.

Already the Pirate Bay is hosting 3D printable files, and in March the Open Source Hardware Association was founded to promote designs that anyone can print and use. The British RepRap open source 3D printer is even designed so that it can reproduce all of the parts needed to build another printer.

Myhrvold's patent could throw a spanner into what is still largely an open source movement, particularly as its language is broad enough to cover not just printing, but also "painting, engraving and/or tattooing by the manufacturing machine."

It's true that there's no requirement for 3D printer manufacturers to use Myhrvold's DRM technology – yet. Having seen the lengths the DRM industry has gone to to try and get its systems built into new technology, it's not outside the realm of possibility that some will sue to ensure printers are built to protect patented designs. ®

Bootnote

On the same day that Intellectual Ventures got its patent, the Free Software Foundation awarded the LulzBot AO-100 3D Printer sold by Aleph Objects its first Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification.

"The desire to own a computer or device and have full control over it, to know that you are not being spied on or tracked, to run any software you wish without asking permission, and to share with friends without worrying about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) — these are the desires of millions of people who care about the future of technology and our society," it said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, hardware manufacturers have until now relied on close cooperation with proprietary software companies that demanded control over their users. As citizens and their customers, we need to promote our desires for a new class of hardware — hardware that anyone can support because it respects your freedom."

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.