Hatch: Congress will act quickly on bill to fight trade secret theft

Hatch: Congress will act quickly on bill to fight trade secret theft
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Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchNY's political prosecution of Manafort should scare us all Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders The FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate MORE (R-Utah) on Friday stumped for a bill he argues would cut down on the unbridled theft of U.S. trade secrets, saying he believes it could get through Congress before the new year.

Security experts and government officials have estimated that corporate hacking — much of it originating in China — costs U.S. businesses hundreds of billions of dollars each year.

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“There is no doubt that China and other foreign competitors are working furiously to steal American innovation from all sectors of the economy, including the high-tech, life sciences, manufacturing, agricultural, aeronautics, financial services and energy industries,” Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said in a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Congress and the Obama administration have struggled to abate this rising tide of cyberattacks.

Hatch said he believes his bill, known as the Defend Trade Secrets Act and introduced with Sen. Chris CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate Dem calls on Trump to apologize for attacks on McCain Sixteen years later, let's finally heed the call of the 9/11 Commission  Senate Dems introduce bill demanding report on Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Del.), could serve as a good first step.

A major problem, as Hatch sees it, is that companies have no ability to go to the federal courts when their trade secrets — such as customer lists, formulas or manufacturing processes — have been misused.

“In the U.S., trade secrets are the only form of [intellectual property] where misuse does not provide the owner with a federal private right of action,” Hatch said. “Instead, trade secret owners whose rights have been violated have to rely on state courts or federal prosecutors if they want any kind of legal recourse.”

And the Department of Justice lacks the resources to prosecute all trade secret cases itself, Hatch maintained.

“This, of course, forces rights holders to wade through a number of costly and complicated multi-state procedural and jurisdictional issues,” he said.

The issue becomes particularly problematic when foreign cyber thieves are involved, as “the victims of trade secret theft need to recover information quickly before it crosses state lines or leaves the country,” Hatch said.

The Hatch-Coons measure would try to streamline the process for redress “and give trade secret owners access to both a uniform national law and the federal courts,” Hatch said.

Under the bill, states would still be able to enact stricter trade secret protections above the national baseline.

While the measure hasn’t moved since it was introduced months ago, Hatch sees an opening to slip it through before the end of the year, as he sees little opposition to the measure.

“This is the type of bill that could move by unanimous consent before Congress adjourns for the holidays,” he insisted.

Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) have a companion measure in the House.

“I hope all of you will help us make this happen,” Hatch implored. “It’s the right thing to do.”