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The future of product liability and home manufacturing

Product liability cases are often some of the more common business litigation cases that occur in the United States. Unfortunately, as many Colorado businesses know, product liability cases can do serious damage to a company's reputation and bottom line. Because there is no federal product liability law, business litigation involving product liability claims are generally based on state law and, in some instances, require a plaintiff to show negligence.

In a recent article, a Stanford law professor argues those injured by a new technology known as 3-D printing may not be protected under traditional product liability law. For those unfamiliar with the technology, a 3-D printer is a device that can make elaborate, three-dimensional products by using a computer design. It is a product that is also becoming affordable for individuals, allowing people to manufacture items at home.

According to the professor, 3-D printers could change the landscape of product liability as we know it since the user ostensibly becomes the creator, thus preventing him from filing a product liability lawsuit against any creator. To buttress her claim, the author discusses how product liability law only applies to commercial sellers as opposed to casual sellers, like a housewife or child who sells lemonade. In the case of an at-home, 3-D printer,, the hobbyist creator who makes products in their living room may fall entirely outside the realm of commercial sales.

When it comes to new technology there is always a lot to consider from a legal prospective. Generally, the law provides answers to questions that have already been asked, leaving the future open to legal debate. Because of this, being innovative can seem dangerous. With the proper guidance and advice, however, a new idea can be worth pursuing. The key is to have good counsel on your side protecting your interests along the way.

Source: Stanford Report, "3-D printing creates murky product liability issues, Stanford scholar says," Clifton B. Parker, December 12, 2013

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