Senate Judiciary panel to probe trade secret theft

The Senate is taking up the issue of trade-secret theft, a problem analysts say is costing the American economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

The Senate Judiciary Committee announced Tuesday that it would hold a hearing on the topic next week, on Wednesday.

{mosads}Lawmakers have been searching for a way to curb an alleged massive Chinese cyber theft campaign to steal American corporate secrets. Not only has the theft damaged the American economy, some say it has helped the Chinese military speed development of advanced technology.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who sits on the Judiciary Committee and heads the Senate Finance Committee, is backing a bill known as the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) that he believes could serve as a good first step.

The measure, co-sponsored by Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who also sits on the Judiciary Committee, would give U.S. companies more tools to seek legal recourse in the federal courts when their trade secrets have been misused.

As the law currently stands, companies have to rely on state courts or federal prosecutors to bring legal action, and the Department of Justice lacks the resources to prosecute all trade secret theft cases.

Hatch recently insisted his measure is “the type of bill that could move by unanimous consent before Congress adjourns for the holidays.”

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

While the effort has bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, dozens of academics recently wrote members of Congress opposing the bill. The coalition of law and economics professors said the offering could create more problems than it solves.

“Instead of addressing cyber espionage head-on, passage of the DTSA is likely to create new problems that could adversely impact domestic innovation, increase the duration and cost of trade secret litigation, and ultimately negatively affect economic growth,” read the letter.

They claimed provisions in the bill would actually create more uncertainty in trade secret law, while adversely affecting small businesses and startups. 

Tags Chris Coons Orrin Hatch

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