Congress Considering Stronger Trade Secret Laws

by: Robert Wagner, intellectual property attorney at Picadio Sneath Miller & Norton, P.C. ()

shutterstock_65907358Congress is not limiting its intellectual property legislation to just patents. Senators Whitehorse and Graham announced yesterday that they are proposing new legislation to aid US companies in protecting their trade secrets via expanded criminal penalties. While just in a “discussion draft” stage, the proposed legislation  includes provisions that “cover[] foreign-sponsored trade secret theft, that victim companies can weigh in on how to protect trade secrets during criminal prosecutions, and to ensure that foreign hackers that victimize American companies can be held accountable.”

Among its provisions, the proposed legislation would:

  • expand coverage to prohibit government sponsored hacking
  • allow owners of the trade secrets more input in cases
  • clarify that the statute covers trade secret theft that is facilitated by means located in the US
  • clarify that “foreign instrumentalities” include companies that are substantially subsidized by foreign government entities
  • expand trade secrets to include negotiating strategies and positions
  • clarify that liability exists for any knowing conveyance of stolen trade secrets to foreign governments
  • make trade secret theft a RICO predicate act

The text of the discussion draft can be found here, along with a summary of the key provisions.

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