Chapter News

Protecting America’s Secret Sauce: Trade Secret Protection for American Innovators

This week, President Obama and Congress helped American companies and innovators protect their intellectual property by passing and signing the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016. This new law provides yet another arrow in the quiver of IP protections by creating a federal civil cause of action for trade secret theft, including the availability of a uniform, reliable and predictable means of protecting valuable trade secrets anywhere in the country. Historically, trade secrets have been protected by a patchwork of state statutes, unlike other types of IP such as patents, trademarks and copyrights that are afforded federal protections. The newly created federal civil cause of action strengthens U.S. trade secret protection, providing a choice for the parties between litigation under state statutes in local courts, or under federal law heard in federal courts.

Failure to protect trade secrets stifles innovation and impedes economic growth. In fact, trade secret theft costs U.S. innovators more than an estimated $300 billion annually. Increasingly the result of cyber espionage, this theft may be the largest wealth transfer in history. Plain and simple, American innovators need strong tools to protect their ‘secret sauce’ from getting into the wrong hands.

Thanks to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, and the bipartisan leadership of Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chris Coons (D-DE) and Representatives Doug Collins (R-GA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the Defend Trade Secrets Act is now law. As innovators recruit venture capital and deliver new products to market, or build on the foundation of corporate success, they can have greater confidence in legal recourse if their critical trade secret is misappropriated. Trade secret owners now also have the same access to federal courts long enjoyed by the holders of other types of IP.

Compliments of the U.S. Department of Commerce