There is general consensus that 3D printing has potentially revolutionary implications for industry and, along with it, for the law. Its consequences for consumers injured by 3D-printed products are potentially just as far-reaching.
Consider this fact pattern: A plumbing parts manufacturer makes CAD files available to plumbing stores so that they may 3D print replacement parts on demand and on-site in response to customer requests. A plumbing store sells such a 3D-printed part to a customer, but the part malfunctions, causing significant damage to the customer’s home.
In this fact pattern, the injured consumer may have recourse against the plumbing parts manufacturer and the plumbing store, although the manufacturer and store are likely to have agreements with indemnification and liability provisions.
But now consider this fact pattern: A company in China uploads a file for the 3D printing of a product and offers it for sale; an individual in the United States purchases the file and 3D prints the product at a local store that prints from customer files; the individual sells it to another, who then is injured by the product.
What recourse is available to the injured consumer? Against whom? For what? Will U.S. law even apply? And where can a suit be filed?
Hunton & Williams Intellectual Property and Retail and Consumer Products Litigation attorneys recently authored an article published in InsideCounsel that addresses these questions and reflects on a movement towards legislative change.