More of a ramble than anything really prompted by news, though I guess you could argue it's me trying
to focus on anything other than politics or the fact I like gaming and gadgets and things beyond my financial means (IE I'm broke.)
As patents expire and 3d printing becomes more affordable they're going to need to embrace the technology and change their business model. We Already have a printer mostly made out of things lego makes. So instead of suing people's pants off Lego needs to do the sensible thing and make a printer of their own and make their own print material already loaded with the basic lego blocks. Then you sell patterns for specialty blocks.
I'm not saying lego will stop making bricks and packaged sets. It's like how while you can download movies, music, games, software the sale of physical objects that contain these things (or cable) hasn't stopped. I'm a geek. I would want to plunk down money for a printer that will let me make these things. Most people will want to just buy the giant bucket for their kids and be done with it.
Same goes with the kit-models for cars/planes/mecha/whatever, action figures, and all. We've had wood longer than we've had plastic and even though you can already shape wood or metal into a Thing most people would rather just go to a store.
After all nobody knows how to get a normal printer to stop printing fifty test pages or whine it can't print your black and white document because you're low on cyan ink and the cost of Ink costs your first born so how much is this powdered plastic to make these 3d things cost, your soul?
This doesn't have to do just with toy makers though. Think of everything that plastic is used in. Now take a half-step further and go 'well why can't this thing work with fiberglass? Ignore the fact you'd need to do a few things that might or might not be physically possible and just say you get a printer that can do this. I don't know if this is doable, not, whatever it's a thought experiment. Congratulations, you're printing panel replacements for vehicles. That is where things get expensive. That's the point where you go from small goods to things 'normal' people might care about.
Yet even then aftermarket re-sellers, kit makers and so on wouldn't up and die. They didn't fold under when normal, albeit rich, people could buy CNC machines and mill their own parts that could
Plus when buying pre-made your'e dealing with a company that has a proven record of making things that are of a certain quality and more importantly they can be called if Thing breaks and you need someone to help you replace Thing. If you cnc/print/whatever Thing you are on your own.
So in closing these companies need to chill, let the printer thing happen. Realize you can make a buck or three off selling parts, maybe your own branded printer, sell patterns for your junk for the geeks that want to tinker, and keep selling the physical boxed things your average Joe or Jane everybody can go to walmart and buy. What I want to avoid is the mess the MPAA and RIAA have been doing and overly legislating an industry to the point of strangling innovation and turning regular people into crooks.
Encourage innovation. Hold contests for best creative re-design of your product. Get people who are interested and talented enough enrolled into possibly becoming employees. Don't try arresting these people. They're potential money makers. They're passionate, often work for little to no money as is so offering them money will only let them do this full time as opposed to whenever they can spare a few hours. Recruit instead of incarcerate. It's more profitable and you get lots of positive PR.