Politics

Senate Passes Bill Protecting Trade Secrets From Foreign Competitors

Photo: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter

In a 87-0 vote, the Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday designed to provide American companies the tools to defend themselves from the theft of corporate trade secrets.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 – spearheaded by Republican Sen. [crscore]Orrin Hatch[/crscore] of Utah and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware in the upper chamber and Republican Rep. [crscore]Doug Collins[/crscore] of Georgia and Democratic Rep. [crscore]Jerrold Nadler[/crscore] of New York in the House – would create a civil law allowing businesses to defend their intellectual property in a federal court. Theft of corporate trade secrets results in an estimated annual loss of $160 billion to $480 billion.

The legislation also allows for companies to retrieve their stolen assets and put injunctions in place to prevent future use of their information.

“I’m thrilled the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to pass our bill that will finally give trade secrets the same legal protections that other forms of critical intellectual property enjoy,” Coons said in a statement. “It’s a long overdue update that will empower American companies to protect their jobs in the 21st century. I urge the House to pass this bill now so the President can sign it into law as soon as possible.”

Currently, businesses that want to take legal action are subject to individual state laws – a policy supporters of the bill, which managed to gain 65 cosponsors, said is unsuitable since they believe federal courts would be better suited in dealing with the issue across both state and national borders.

“I am encouraged by the Senate passage of the Defend Trade Secrets Act,” Collins said of its passage. “The overwhelming support for the bill in the Senate is further evidence of the importance of the protections provided by the legislation.”

The legislation had strong support from a number of businesses including IBM, Boeing, Pfizer, Intel and General Electric just to name a few. 

The House is slated to vote on the legislation in coming weeks.

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