A recent post on TechCrunch featured the story of a seven-year-old girl who threw out the first pitch in a recent World Series final game with her new prosthetic hand –one that had been created on a 3D printer.

There is no doubt that 3-D printing is evolving into a significant force for both good and evil (I’m thinking in the latter case of the potential for reproduction of undetectable weapons and even drugs). However, even when the facsimiles are truly beneficial, as in the case of this little pitcher’s hand, advances in 3D printing force a host of rhetorical questions upon the legal community that relate to intellectual property law.

Back in the day, if a person or an entity believed its intellectual property was being compromised, investigations would likely have led to a manufacturing facility and to contractors who were paying to create the copied product. With 3-D printing, it will become much more difficult to enforce IP rights. I wonder if, in the long term, IP rights themselves will become diluted, as opportunities increase to emulate products without a license.

What are your thoughts on where this and similar technologies are going, and the possible legal implications? I welcome your thoughts on this or any other matter related to the law, either in the comments section below or directly via email.