Who Owns the Intellectual Property of Your 3D Prints?

“Do you store my files?” “Who guarantees that no one will take my ideas and copy them?“ “Can I print Star Wars characters with you guys?” – These are typical questions we get at meetups and fairs. It seems like some clarification is in order when it comes to intellectual property and 3D printing, and in this blog post I’ll try to explain the basics in a simple way.

I’ll say this much right from the start: intellectual property is an important, and somewhat complex subject when it comes to 3D printing. Please keep in mind that this blog post is simply intended as a straightforward answer to some of the more frequent questions we get. It should not be seen as legal advice.

Your idea, your design, your intellectual property.

Your idea, your design, your intellectual property. Sketch of the ‘Love Lamps’ by Sandro Lominashvili

With great power comes great responsibility

3D printing gives us the power to create anything. All you need is an idea and a modicum of talent when it comes to creating a 3D file. This revolutionizes the way we can create objects and turn ideas into 3D-printed reality.

However, this can also cause problems. When 3D files are uploaded to a website, who guarantees that your designs won’t be sold and copied? And who checks if you are the original author of the files that you claim as your own? Let’s dive a bit deeper into all this.

What you can expect

I know that you sometimes work for weeks, even months, on your designs. Designs that cost a lot of time, resources, and willpower. Some designs might be the prototype of a new tech gadget, while others are a smart idea that you want to keep to yourself.

Of course the last thing that you’d want to happen is for others to see these prints or even worse, copy them. So, if you upload your file to our website, isn’t there a risk that someone steals your idea or downloads your files?

Well, not really.

  • Firstly, when you upload a file in order to check out the prices for a professional 3D print, your designs will not be visible to the public. For your own convenience, the data will be stored in your own account for 30 days. After that, the data will be deleted
  • Secondly, regardless of whether you place an order or not, others will never be able to see or download your file. Even in the event (and this is completely optional) that you decide to open your shop on our website to sell your 3D prints, customers still won’t have the option to download the actual 3D file
  • Thirdly, we will never sell your designs or use them without your permission. We have been active in the 3D printing sector for more than 25 years and have a long history of working on prototypes with brands such as Adidas, Toyota, and Peugeot. We have gained their trust by proving that we are a reliable and trustworthy partner. Whenever we display 3D prints at a booth, or feature images of designs on our website, we will ask for the designer’s approval first and we will always indicate the name of the designer. As the original designer, it is only natural that you always keep the intellectual property of your design

How we protect our designers on our website

As a way to protect your designs, but also the designs and intellectual property of others, we do not allow any designs on our site that violate third-party intellectual property rights.

By submitting an order to i.materialise, the user confirms that he/she is the owner or that they have obtained the necessary rights to submit this order for a third party.

If a design is submitted to i.materialise that risks infringing the intellectual property rights of third parties, i.materialise reserves the right to either not produce the design, or to produce the design without the part that risks infringing the rights of third parties. In other words, we won’t print designs that aren’t 100% owned by the person who uploads them.

By doing this, we also make sure that the designs you’ve created yourself cannot simply be copied by others. You can read more about this in the ‘Data Protection’ section of our terms and conditions.

If you have more questions about intellectual property and 3D printing, don’t hesitate to check out our FAQ section on intellectual property, or get in touch with us.

This information is for educational and informational purposes only. The content should not be construed as legal advice. The author and i.materialise disclaim all responsibility for any and all losses, damages, or causes of action that may arise or be connected with the use of this blog post. Please consult a licensed attorney in your area with specific legal questions or concerns.

Featured image: Love Lamps by Sandro Lominashvili