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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Protect American Intellectual Property

Manufacturers in Wisconsin and across the country support bipartisan legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), along with Senate Judiciary Committee members Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chris Coon (D-DE), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and House Members Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to 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 U.S. 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 support this bipartisan legislation because it closes a loophole in U.S. law to safeguard valuable intellectual property and protect American jobs.”

"The introduction of the Defend Trade Secrets Act with the support and leadership of Senator Baldwin is strongly supported by Neenah Enterprises and manufacturers across Wisconsin and the entire U.S.,” said Tom Riordan, President and CEO of Neenah Enterprises. Intellectual property protected by trade secrets are a critical business advantage as part of our "secret sauce" for U.S manufacturers in the highly competitive global marketplace. Increasing the ability of manufacturers to protect those key assets and the efficiency with which law enforcement can pursue those that steal them will help protect the innovation driving job creation in the manufacturing sector."

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.

The bill also is supported by the Association of Global Automakers, Inc., Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), The Boeing Company, Boston Scientific, BSA | The Software Alliance (BSA), Caterpillar Inc., Corning Incorporated, Eli Lilly and Company, General Electric, Honda, IBM, Illinois Tool Works Inc., Intel, International Fragrance Association, North America, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Micron, National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation (NAJI), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), NIKE, The Procter & Gamble Company, Siemens Corporation, Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, United Technologies Corporation and 3M.