The number of cases is growing rapidly, in which original spare parts and components are falsified by means of 3D printing. Counterfeiters use the new technology to copy not only car parts and aircraft components, but also surgical instruments, components for hearing aids and cardiac pacemakers, prostheses and implants such as hip or knee joints, or dental prostheses. The risk for the users can be significant due to material deficiencies and quality problems.
With the 3D printing technology, products can simply be copied when digital CAD data are available to the forger. Companies can therefore keep 3D printing piracy at bay with the help of intensive know-how protection and the registration of industrial property rights. Patents, utility models, registered designs, copyrights and trademarks are as valid here as in case of traditionally manufactured products.
The intellectual property rights of an original manufacturer can be infringed by the unauthorized creation of a CAD file through scanning, its offer, and the distribution or the actual manufacturing of the products. Violations can be prosecuted by the same means as in traditional anti-counterfeiting: covert investigations, evidence securing, court proceedings with claims for damages, as well as public relations for deterrent effect.