Professor Hing Kai Chan.
[Photo by Amelia Wang]
By Lou Chuchu
A patented watermarking technology, jointly developed by academics at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC), is now being linked to blockchain technology to support the licensing of 3D-printed objects. This pioneering technology will help companies to license their 3D-design content effectively for the first time, allowing them to expand into new markets.
The development project, which is supported by grants from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council and the UNNC Li Dak Sum Innovation Fellowship, was recently highlighted at the British and Irish Law Education Technology Association (BILETA) Conference in April 2022.
Many creators of 3D designs recruit a company to print their creations by sending the company a downloadable digital file. As these files can be subject to leakage, the licensing and watermarking of these files ensure intellectual property can be authenticated, traded, and stored more securely.
Incorporating blockchain into this process will also allow watermarks and copyright information to be included and give creators an extra layer of legal protection.
As one of the inventors of the watermarking technology, Professor Hing Kai Chan said that applying blockchain will help tackle the intellectual property rights challenges faced by emerging technologies such as 3D printing.
"The toughest problem in 3D printing is not the technology itself, but the protection of intellectual property", Professor Chan said. "Currently there are no specific legal provisions for 3D printing licensing contracts in China. Our licensing system contains new technical standards for content licensing and distribution, so as to protect creative 3D-printed works worldwide."
UNNC academics Professor Hing Kai Chan and Doctor Lei Hao are part of the project's international team of experts. The team also has academics from the University of Exeter Law School, the University of Essex, and the University of Nottingham UK.
Chief Adviser: Zhao Qingchuan
Proofreader: Xu Zhuowei