July 29, 2014

Congress Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Protect Trade Secrets

By Frank Cullen

When a bill gets cosponsors from both sides of the aisle and both wings of the Capitol, it usually indicates a consensus of purpose.  That is exactly what is behind the recent pair of bills that seek to harmonize federal laws and provide certainty and protection of U. S. trade secrets. In reaction to the introduction of Trade Secrets Protection Act of 2014 by Representatives Holding, Coble, Conyers, Chabot, Nadler and Jefferies, which mirrors much of the legislative structures and specifics of the 2014 Defend Trade Secrets Act introduced by Senators Coons and Hatch, GIPC’s President and CEO, David Hirschmann said:

“The innovation that drives industry and makes amazing new products and technologies will only continue if creators can secure them from theft and misappropriation.  The introduction of today’s bill in the House as a companion to the Senate’s Defend Trade Secrets Act demonstrates bicameral and bipartisan support for protecting intellectual property.  Security of trade secrets will help provide the assurance innovative businesses of all sizes need to start, and grow, their companies.”

GIPC has long championed the critical role intellectual property plays in developing economies and fostering innovation, benefiting both industry and consumers.  Trade secrets are a significant and vital part of the various types of IP that create 40 million jobs, generate $775 Billion in trade and account for 34% of total GDP from innovative industries. In fact, as stated in an industry coalition letter supporting the Coons-Hatch bill:

“Trade secrets include information as broad-ranging as manufacturing processes, industrial techniques, formulas, and customer lists. Trade secrets account for an average of two-thirds of the value of companies’ information portfolios, and therefore represent an integral part of a U.S. company’s competitive advantage and its ability to create jobs and value.”

Former USPTO Director and now senior adviser to the Partnership for American Innovation, David Kappos, put the impact of trade secrets this way:

“U.S. company trade secrets are commonly misappropriated by domestic and foreign entities, both in the U.S. and in countries lacking strong IP protection. These stolen secrets are then used to unfairly compete with the trade secret owner. The problem has become systemic. According to recent industry surveys, nearly 60 percent of respondents reported having been victims of attempted or actual trade secret theft. Estimates place the annual cost of trade secret misappropriation to U.S. companies in the range of $160 billion to $480 billion.”

Very few policy efforts are enjoying this level of support and beltway watchers are taking notice.

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