WASHINGTON D.C. - Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin passed the U.S. Senate recently. Last year, Senator Baldwin joined Senate Judiciary Committee members Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Thom Tillis (R-NC) in introducing the Defend Trade Secrets Act.
The bipartisan reform will help combat the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the United States to the theft of corporate trade secrets. The Defend Trade Secrets Act would empower companies to protect their trade secrets in federal court by creating a federal private right-of-action.
“The theft of American intellectual property threatens economic growth and American jobs,” said Senator Baldwin. “We must strengthen protections for American businesses and Made in America innovation. I am proud to have fought for this bipartisan reform because it closes a loophole in U.S. law to safeguard valuable intellectual property and protect American jobs.”
"We applaud Senator Baldwin for supporting the Defend Trade Secrets Act, an important bill to help protect the bio-health industry's investments in trade secrets that have resulted in innovative products and services,” said Lisa Johnson, CEO of BioForward in Madison, Wisconsin. “This industry is highly dependent on trade secrets for future innovations and the ability to protect its substantial research and development investments that result in secrecy of its products' protocols."
Trade secrets are an essential form of intellectual property. Trade secrets include information as broad-ranging as manufacturing processes, product development, industrial techniques, formulas and customer lists. In today’s electronic age, trade secrets can be stolen with a few keystrokes, and increasingly, they are stolen at the direction of a foreign government or for the benefit of a foreign competitor. These losses put U.S. jobs at risk and threaten incentives for continued investment in research and development.
Current federal criminal law is insufficient. Although the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 made trade secret theft a crime, the Department of Justice lacks the resources to prosecute many such cases. State-level civil trade secret laws alone have not been sufficient to stop interstate theft. Federal courts are better suited to working across state and national boundaries to facilitate discovery, serve defendants or witnesses, or prevent a party from leaving the country. Laws also vary state-to-state, making it difficult for U.S. companies to craft consistent policies.
The Defend Trade Secrets Act would:
· Harmonize U.S. law by building on the Economic Espionage Act to create a uniform standard for trade secret misappropriation. Companies will be able to craft one set of nondisclosure policies secure in the knowledge that federal law will protect their trade secrets.
· Provide for injunctions and damages, to preserve evidence, prevent disclosure, and account for the economic harm to American companies whose trade secrets are stolen without preventing employee mobility.
· Be consistent with the remedies provided for other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, which are all covered by federal civil law.