Today, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), along with Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), introduced the Protecting American Trade Secrets and Innovation Act of 2012. This legislation will help American companies protect their valuable trade secrets by giving them the additional option of seeking redress in Federal courts when they are victims of economic espionage or trade secret theft. Stolen trade secrets cost American companies billions of dollars each year and threaten their ability to innovate and compete globally. This bill ensures that companies have the most effective and efficient ways to combat trade secret theft and recoup their losses, helping them to maintain their global competitive edge.
"We cannot take lightly the threat of trade secret theft to American businesses, American jobs, and American innovation. This legislation is another simple and straightforward step we can take to help companies defend themselves against trade secret theft. It demonstrates our commitment at the federal level to protect all forms of a business's intellectual property and their innovative spirit," Kohl said.
This legislation expands the legal options for victims of economic espionage and trade secret theft by allowing victims of trade secret theft to bring civil lawsuits against the offender in federal court. Today, companies that fall victim to economic espionage and trade secret theft often can only bring civil actions in state court, under a patchwork of state laws, to stop the harm or seek compensation for losses. While state courts may be a suitable venue in some cases, major trade secret cases will often require tools available more readily in Federal court, such as nationwide service of process for subpoenas, discovery and witness depositions. In addition, for trade secret holders operating nationwide, a single federal statute can be more efficient than navigating 50 different state laws.
Trade secrets are a major component of a company's business and business model. If these secrets are stolen it can mean substantial loss and cause long term damage. Senator Kohl has worked on this issue in the past, by introducing the Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act of 2011, increasing the penalties of those who commit economic espionage.