According to a story first published by TheDrive, “all models referencing the word Honda posted prior to March 30, 2022, were seemingly removed from Printables without warning. These included speaker brackets, key housings, hood latches, shifter bushings, washer fluid caps, roof latch handles, and my trunk lid handle—a part not offered on 10th generation Accords sold in the U.S. at all. According to the author of the article, many of the removed parts had no Honda branding but were just compatible with Honda vehicles. As it turns out, Prusa says it was issued a takedown notice from Honda and removed all 3D models that referenced the brand.
As is often the case, the story first emerged from a Reddit community discussion topic titled “Honda is deleting 3d models”. Rob Stumpf, the author of the TheDrive story reached out to both Prusa (the owners of the recently rebranded Printables 3D model marketplace) and Honda for confirmation and said that Prusa confirmed they “have received a letter from a lawyer representing Honda, informing us that we were required to remove any model which used ‘Honda’ in the listing, the model itself, or one of several trademarks/logos also associated with Honda […] This will also be related to the naming of the files it self (sic), as for Honda this would be considered as a violation of their trademark/patents.”
The decision seems to be originating from Honda’s European branch (Prusa is a Czech Republic-based company) and Stumpf said that Honda Motors Europe did not respond when repeatedly asked for comment on the matter. Prusa also declined to provide The Drive with a copy of the document to review.
Based on a quick search of other 3D model marketplaces such as US/Israel-based Thingiverse and UK-based MyMiniFactory, also seem to have been affected concerning models that are available for sale, although a few free Honda-themed models are still available. France-based Cults3D also confirmed to 3dpbm that they have received the note from Honda and that such notices from lawyer firms are actually quite common. The Thangs 3D model search engine (which however only lists models from other marketplaces) also continues to display Honda-themed models.
This is certainly not the first time that a large brand requests its unauthorized files are removed from 3D model marketplaces. Many years ago, a popular Pokemon-based 3D model created by designer Flowalistik gained global visibility as it was made available on Shapeways as a low-poly plant-holder and Nintendo asked the company to remove it. On the wake of that event, we asked Nintendo what their policy is on such decisions and a spokesperson told us that, “while there are in fact cases where it is entirely ok to make non-commercial, 3D printable, IP-protected replicas of its characters, it would be best to speak with an IP lawyer before doing so.”
Honda itself has explored 3D printing in a popular marketing initiative a few years ago, at the dawn of “consumer 3D printing”, where it officially made some of its car models available as STLs to 3D printing enthusiasts. Generally speaking, it is still very much “far west” out there with IPs used in non-commercial 3D printable products available through various marketplaces. The largest brands will not act upon them as they generally view these as a form of free-marketing, however, they will act if they perceive a potential loss in profits. Another very popular case was the 3D printed Lamborghini story that 3dpbm first broke to the world. In that case, Lamborghini embraced this unique initiative and transformed it into a powerful Christmas marketing campaign.