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Collins Bill to Protect American Jobs, Innovation, Passes House

Collins Bill to Protect American Jobs, Innovation, Passes House

WASHINGTON—Today, the House of Representatives passed S. 1890, the Defend Trade Secrets Act. Congressman Collins (R-Ga.), who introduced the House version of the legislation, made the following statement after the vote:

“The United States is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world, and the lifeblood of many of those businesses are their trade secrets. However, that success has made American businesses a target for trade secret theft to the tune of billions of dollars each year. This theft—by foreign and domestic actors—threatens American jobs and economic security, and discourages investment. This bill will provide a uniform federal civil remedy for trade secret misuse or misappropriation, to establish protections similar to those for other forms of intellectual property.

“This legislation—which has broad bipartisan support—is critical to protecting American intellectual property and the associated jobs and economic benefits. Current federal law is insufficient to address this problem, but the Defend Trade Secrets Act takes steps to fix that. I thank Chairman Goodlatte and Ranking Member Conyers, and Reps. Nadler and Jeffries for their support and leadership on this bill,  and applaud Senators Hatch and Coons for their tireless efforts in the Senate to move this bill forward. With today’s vote, this bill will go to the President’s desk and meaningful measures to protect American innovation and competitiveness will be enacted.”

Background on the Defend Trade Secrets Act:

Trade secrets include everything from business information to designs, prototypes, formulas, and procedures. Trade secrets derive their economic value from not being publicly known, and this confidential business information is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge. Once trade secrets are disclosed, they instantly lose their economic value. Current law does not provide  sufficient protections for trade secrets, and trade secrets are not subject to the same protections that apply to other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks.

Today, the only federal mechanism for trade secret protection is the 1996 Economic Espionage Act, which makes trade secret theft by foreign nationals a criminal offense. This law addresses only a portion of the problem, and advances in technology and increased sophistication of thieves have made it clear additional protections are needed.  

The Defend Trade Secrets Act creates a federal private right of action for trade secret theft and establishes a uniform national standard. It allows for victims of trade secret theft to protect their property in federal court. Additionally, the bill provides for an injunction and damages, and, in extraordinary circumstances, allows victims of trade secret theft to obtain a seizure to ensure trade secrets are not abused while cases are pending.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act passed the Senate by a vote of 87 to 0. The House companion has more than 160 cosponsors, and the bill is supported by a coalition comprised of more than 50 companies and associations. 

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