INTERNET FREEDOM ADVOCATE the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has asked open source enthusiasts to help it monitor patent applications to ensure that unscrupulous firms cannot stifle nascent 3D printing development.
The EFF called for volunteers to highlight any concerns about intellectual property that could be patented by private groups and used in later litigation against 3D printing startups.
The group said that the effort is part of a campaign to keep the 3D printing space free from patent trolls, which the EFF claimed would stifle innovation in the market by looking to impose licensing fees wherever possible.
"With your help, we have identified a line-up of top-priority patent applications that seem both overly-broad and dangerous to the open source community," EFF attorney Julie Samuels said in a blog post.
"Now it's time to find proof that these patent applicants do not deserve the monopolies they are asking for: that what they are trying to patent was known or was obvious before the patent was filed."
The group is asking users to submit documents, prior art, public emails and other materials that can be used to engage with the patent application process. The EFF hopes that the campaign will help to keep the 3D printing market open and free from control by a select group of vendors.
While still in its infancy, 3D printing has drawn the attention of the engineering and industrial communities for its possible applications in manufacturing. Both the public and private sectors have invested in 3D printing, hoping to reap rewards in the future. µ