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Mr. COONS. Mr. President, I rise to speak about two amendments I filed today to help protect American intellectual property from theft abroad. If we are serious about leveling the playing field with countries like China, then protecting U.S. intellectual property from theft has to be a part of it.
This summer I went up and down our State meeting with business leaders and asking them about what we need to do in Washington to help them create jobs. Though currency manipulation came up from time to time, it paled in comparison to the fear our innovative business owners had about intellectual property theft.
When foreign companies and governments steal our ideas, they are stealing more than just formulas and schematics--they are stealing jobs. These two amendments are about giving America the tools to fight back.
I introduced my first amendment with my colleague on the Judiciary Committee, Senator Kohl. It provides a Federal private right of action for victims of trade secret theft. Trade secrets are a critical form of intellectual property, particularly among manufacturers, and when they are stolen, it can result in catastrophic damage to American companies and their employees.
After the Korean company, Kolon, was found to have stolen the trade secrets behind DuPont's next generation Kevlar fiber, a jury last month found that DuPont had suffered a staggering $919 million in damages.
Trade secrets are a critical part of the American economy. Yet they are the only form of intellectual property without a Federal cause of action. Our amendment would fix that and provide U.S. victims of trade-secret theft access to the same service of process, same ability to keep sensitive documents secret, and the same uniformity of substantive law available to other intellectual property victims.
My second amendment, which I introduced with my colleague Senator Grassley, the distinguished ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, fixes a simple problem, but one that vexes an array of companies that I hear from regularly.
Under current law, when Customs and Border Patrol agents intercept a shipment that they suspect contains counterfeit or trademark-infringing goods, there are prevented from properly investigating the shipment because they cannot share product samples or UPC codes with the intellectual property holder.
That is ridiculous. Why are we tying the hands of our agents and preventing American businesses from sticking up for themselves? Worse, it means that shipments of counterfeit goods are being let into this country even when Customs agents have reason to believe they might be counterfeit. And it is not just toys, clothes and electronics that we are talking about; it is prescription drugs and medical technologies.
We are abetting the trade imbalance that is stifling the American economy by allowing this gaping hole to continue to exist. In come cheap counterfeit goods, and out go American jobs.
Our amendment would close this gaping hole in our economic security by allowing Customs and Border Patrol agents to share the information that they need to identify counterfeit goods, stop these illicit shipments, and protect American jobs.
The time has come to get serious about the threats posed to our health and workforce by foreign intellectual property thieves.
I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
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