Law 360 has featured Kelsey Wilbanks’ expert analysis on Defense Distributed, a Fifth Circuit decision discussing 3D Printing and ITAR regulations.
Defense Distributed v. United States Dep't of State, 838 F.3d 451 (5th Cir. 2016), involves a nonprofit organization that publicly posted online its 3D printing computer aided design (CAD) files for guns, including “The Liberator” – a single-shot pistol that uses a .380 caliber bullet. These CAD files enable any user with a 3D printer to privately manufacture a functional gun with the click of a mouse. After posting the CAD files, Defense Distributed received a takedown notice from the U.S. Department of State, requiring it to remove the files and seek International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) approval before re-posting. The organization sought a preliminary injunction to enjoin the State Department from enforcing the ITAR requirements, arguing that the requirements violated the First Amendment and other constitutional rights. Denying the injunction, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas found that the public interest in national security outweighed the potential harms to Defense Distributed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed, and Defense Distributed petitioned the Supreme Court for writ of certiorari. On January 8, 2018, the Supreme Court denied the petition. However, for reasons discussed in the article, the Supreme Court may eventually hear this case or a similar case. In addition, the current and future outcomes could affect the 3D printing industry.
See Smith Pachter McWhorter’s 3D Printing Practice for more information.