Penrose Triangle Sparks Debate About What Defines Invention
The first 3D printing copyright scandal raises new questions about intellectual property law.
For those of you who don’t know, the Penrose Triangle is one of those “impossible objects”: a two-dimensional figure that the eye automatically interprets as three-dimensional – like M.C. Escher’s stairs, in other words, an optical illusion. Therefore, it is not surprising that this object was one that enthusiasts were eager to try to 3D print.
Deemed hopeless, the blogosphere was abuzz when a few days ago, Netherlands-based designer Ulrich Schwanitz claimed to have succeeded in printing the object, but wouldn’t reveal his method. The challenge was on to figure it out, and 3D modeller Artur Tchoukanov was the first to crack the code. He posted his solution and schematic and was therefore “wrongly” credited by BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow as the initial creator of the object. This sparked an Internet squabble that was eventually resolved, but unintentionally raised some interesting questions about the definition and source of invention, further debated on i.Materialise. Questions like: what defines invention? Intellectual Property law rules on the side of the “documented inventor” therefore, Artur would be the victor of this battle, yet it is clear, in this case, that Ulrich was the 3D object’s original creator.