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3D Printing and AI: Arbitration and Mediation

1 October 2020 - 30 September 2021

PI/s in Exeter: Professor James Griffin, Dr Kyriaki Noussia

Funding awarded: £ 10,462

Sponsor(s): ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA) Project Co-Creation Fund Award

About the research

3D printing is increasingly important as it is a means to redistribute the manufacturing and use of products, and their application in many sectors of the society. World trade may transform from one around distributing products, to one around distributing digitalised product designs, and manufacturing and distribution will become de-globalised, and will be placed nearer consumers. Intellectual property rights are difficult to enforce against end-consumers in the emerging world of personal 3D printing.

Inevitably, disputes may arise which require resolution. In particular, in relation to IP disputes, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) (whether mediation or arbitration) offers a means by which to quickly and cheaply resolve disputes.

We propose an online system to facilitate the collection of the evidence of legal disputes, and enable the quick resolution of disputes. Such evidence facilitation will be done via the attachment of a digital watermark. Such a watermark is composed of data within a digital file (e.g. a 3DP print save file, called .stl), data on the surface a physically 3D printed object, and data within the structure of the 3D print, and this combination can be used to track and trace content, and can thus be used in the evidence of legal disputes.

Such a watermarking system provides a means to integrate an online ADR system to allow disputes to proceed more quickly.


The project will lead to:

a) the creation of a digital mediation / arbitration online platform which will offer and constitute a standardised and computerised system to serve as a tool and method of ADR and the creation of a prototype for the creation of a tool as a marketable product of a digital ADR system as an ADR tool (wide use).

b) the publication of two papers in peer-reviewed journals on the area of IP, arbitration and technology law discussing the increasing convergence between technology and law, ADR methods in IP disputes and claims for 3D, 4D, augmented and virtual reality products;.

c) a workshop (dates to be decided but probably Sept. 2021) with IBM and Lux Mediation, to present the results of the research and disseminate them to the wider public and Arbitration Commissions, and a report thereafter to be distributed to the major Arbitration Commissions

Image by krzysztof-m from Pixabay.