The US Congress has recently passed two bills to protect trade secrets and is working on more.
The Theft of Trade Secrets Clarification Act was passed in 2012 in response to a court decision overturning the trade theft conviction of former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov.
As previously reported, Goldman has been ordered to pay about $1.7 million (so far) for Aleynikov’s legal fees.
Another act passed in 2012, the Foreign and Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act of 2012, increased penalties for trade secret theft.
Reports that the Chinese military had hacked into the computers of US businesses to steal trade secrets have led to even more trade secret protection bills.
Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) has introduced the Private Right of Action Against Theft of Trade Secrets Act of 2013 (H.R. 2466). This act would give individuals and companies a right of action under the federal Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA) to sue those who misappropriate trade secrets. The EEA now only allows federal prosecutors to file criminal trade secret cases.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) introduced the Future of American Innovation and Research Act (S. 1770), which would create a private right of action for trade secret theft by foreign entities. The act would give US federal courts jurisdiction over thefts by foreign entities that injure a US citizen or cause an injury within the United States.
Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI) introduced the Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act (H.R. 2281) and Senator Carol Levin (D-MI) introduced the Deter Cyber Theft Act (S. 884).
The Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act would allow federal agencies to penalize foreign officials that committed or aided cyber-espionage and trade secret theft. Penalties would include freezing assets, banning travel to the US, and other measures.
The Deter Cyber Theft Act would create a “watch list” of counties that engage in “economic or industrial espionage in cyberspace with respect to United States trade secrets or proprietary information.”
In order for information to be protected as a trade secret under either state or federal law, a company that owns the so-called secrets must take adequate steps to maintain the confidentiality of the information.