Conformity of 3d Prints – Can Current Sales Law Cope?
Forthcoming in R.Schulze/D.Staudenmeyer, Digital Revolution – Challenges for Contract Law (Nomos/Hart)
25 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 2, 2015
This contribution focuses on the contract law issues of an exciting technological development: the wide-spread use of 3D-printing as a new manufacturing process. As will become apparent, this is much more than just another new technology that can be used to improve current manufacturing processes. The objective of this paper is to consider how the arrival of 3D-printing might require us to re-think current law particularly with regard to contract law, specifically the sale of goods. Much has been written about the intellectual property implications of this development, but the implications for the law on sales contracts are under-explored. In order to identify these, this paper will first give a brief overview of the process of 3D-printing, before considering the most common types of transaction where 3D-printing is likely to have, or already has, a sustained application. Based on this, the particular legal issues this creates are considered, before examining the extent to which current law is able to address these and suggesting aspects where there might be a need either to clarify the law, or to introduce new provisions to fill a gap in existing legislation. The focus of this analysis is primarily on the position of a (consumer) buyer who acquires an item produced by 3D-printing technology. Specific matters discussed are: (i) sales law and 3D-printed products; (ii) conformity of digital content; (iii) 3D printing service providers; (iv) the boundary between private and professional suppliers of 3D-printed goods; and (v) the role of on-line platforms, both selling and production platforms.
Keywords: 3D-printing, contract law, sale of goods, consumer law, on-line platforms
JEL Classification: K12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation