This post is from the Reed Smith side of the blog only.
For well over a year, now Reed Smith has been engaged in an “initiative” concerning the innovative technology, “3D printing,” also known as “additive manufacturing.” We’ve tried to stay on the forefront of the legal implications of 3D printing, particularly the product liability implications, as we have posted about it here, here, here and here.
Blogging is a quick way to disseminate information, but it’s not the only way. That’s why Bexis, sometimes guest poster Matt Jacobson, and a number of their Reed Smith colleagues have explored the legal ramifications of 3D printing in a more in-depth and traditional fashion.
Most recently, Bexis and Matt have authored the most comprehensive law review article to date on the product liability implications of 3D printing. The article is called, “3D Printing: What Could Happen to Products Liability When Users (and Everyone Else in Between) Become Manufacturers,” and it will appear in the Minnesota Journal of Law, Science & Technology at 18 Minn. J.L. Sci. & Tech. 143 (2017). If there is anything better out there on this subject, we have not seen it. It’s now on the law review’s site, and you can download directly a PDF of the article for free at this link.
The first part of this comprehensive article covers the nature of 3D printing and how this new technology works. There follows an overview of traditional tort liability concepts, and of the gray area that occurs when a potentially revolutionary new technology that allows anyone to become a manufacturer meets legal doctrines, like strict liability and warranty, that turn on concepts like “manufacturer” and “seller” from a prior era. The second part of the article focuses specifically on 3D printing’s impact on medical devices and health care and the product liability considerations that are specific to these highly technical and potentially life-saving products.
As 3D printing appears to be the next great chapter in the industrial revolution, with the technology often moving more rapidly than the law, this article is significant in that it comprehensively analyzes the current state of products liability law and the legal issues that arise from this body of law when 3D printing is involved.
Second, Reed Smith, again with Bexis and Matt co-authoring the tort liability chapter, has now released a second edition of its “white paper” on 3D printing legal issues: “3D Printing of Manufactured Goods: An Updated Analysis.” The paper includes chapters on the following topics: (1) Constitutional Issues (regarding 3D printed guns); (2) Commercial Litigation; (3) Product Liability, (4) 3D Printing/Component Parts/Raw Materials, (5) Insurance Issues, (6) Intellectual Property Issues, (7) Data Privacy, and (8) Environmental Safety.
We on the Reed Smith side are committed to exploring this novel technology and the legal issues that come with it, especially when those issues involve products liability. We will continue to post any new updates as products liability law changes (or does not change) as 3D printed products become more and more commonplace.