“The technology covered by a patent is defined and limited by its claims.”
As I explain in my new book, 3D Printing Will Rock the World, 3D printing has been around for about 30 years, which means that some of the earliest patents in this space are fond memories. From 2002 to 2014, about 225 early 3D printing patents expired. About 16 key patents relating to 3D printing processes called Material Extrusion, Powder Bed Fusion, and Vat Photopolymerization expired in 2013-14.
This means that 3D printing technology that is at least 20 years old is now available for anyone to use. When a patent expires, the invention goes into the public domain. But figuring out when a patent has actually expired can be tricky. The current U.S. patent term is 20 years from the date the patent application was filed in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Don’t assume, though, that every patent necessarily expires 20 years after its filing date.
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