House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help protect the trade secrets of American companies from foreign thieves. The Foreign and Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act of 2012 (H.R. 6029) helps deter individuals and organizations outside the U.S. from stealing American trade secrets by raising the penalties for those convicted of foreign economic espionage.
The bill raises the maximum penalties for an individual convicted of foreign economic espionage from 15 years to 20 years in prison, and from a fine of up to $500,000 to one of up to $5 million. It raises the maximum penalties for an organization convicted of foreign economic espionage from a fine of up to $10 million to a fine of up to $10 million or three times the value of the stolen trade secret, whichever is greater.
Chairman Smith: "The economic and national security of our country depends on the security of our information. Reports show that our economy loses billions of dollars every year because foreign spies steal our intellectual property and trade secrets. The theft of American innovations costs U.S. companies money that could be used to create jobs.
"Recently, the threat of hackers and spies online has increased from criminals in countries such as China and Russia, and these cyber thieves will continue to become greater threats to the U.S. economy in the coming years.
"U.S. companies and entrepreneurs must be able to protect themselves from foreign spies looking to profit by stealing American inventions. The Foreign and Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act of 2012 increases the punishment for foreign thieves convicted of stealing U.S. trade secrets, technology and intellectual property. These penalties, which have not been updated since 1996, help prevent criminals from stealing our ideas and help keep the jobs created by American innovators here in the U.S."
Original cosponsors include House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D, Mich.), Intellectual Property Subcommittee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Intellectual Property Subcommittee Ranking Member Mel Watt (D-N.C.), Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee Chairman Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Congressman Frank Wolf (R-N.C.), Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas), and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).