President Obama on Wednesday signed legislation into law that will provide a federal remedy for U.S. companies seeking relief from the theft of trade secrets, which costs companies billions every year.
Flanked by a bipartisan group of seven lawmakers, Obama praised congressional efforts to pass an enforcement bill that allows companies to seek damages through criminal and civil actions against those who steal valuable trade secrets.
"As many of you know, one of the biggest advantages that we've got in this global economy is that we innovate, we come up with new services, new goods, new products, new technologies," Obama said.
"Unfortunately, all too often, some of our competitors, instead of competing with us fairly, are trying to steal these trade secrets from American companies," he said.
The president also took a moment to urge Congress to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he said contains additional enforcement tools to ensure that the 11 other countries in the deal partner with the United States to stop trade secret theft.
"At a time when the Asia-Pacific region is growing rapidly and where American businesses are competing, unfortunately one of the problems that we have in that region is the tendency to steal trade secrets, produce knockoffs for those markets, and we end up losing business, and that means we're losing American jobs," he said.
The Senate passed the bill April 2 on an 87-0 vote, and the House cleared the measure 410-2 on April 27.
The value of U.S. trade secrets amounts to around $5 trillion, and about $300 billion is stolen every year.
Lawmakers on hand for the signing were Reps. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (R-Va.), Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who teamed up on the House effort, along with Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) and Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenators: US allies concerned Senate won't pass annual defense bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay Can America prevent a global warming cold war? MORE (D-Del.) from the upper chamber.
Signing the bill wrapped up about two years of work to craft the measure aimed at harmonizing federal law and giving businesses more consistent legal protections when their trade secrets are stolen.
“Today marks a significant victory for American innovators and American workers,” said David Hirschmann, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC).
Trade secrets — such as customer lists, formulas and manufacturing processes — were the only form of U.S. intellectual property lacking protection under federal civil law.
As a result, trade secret owners had to often rely on state courts to protect their rights, which was a complex and expensive endeavor.
“I’m thrilled that despite the gridlock in Congress, today we’re able to celebrate a real, bipartisan achievement that will help American businesses grow, innovate and protect their hard earned intellectual property,” Coons said.
Hatch said that enacting the bill "is the most significant intellectual property development in years, and it demonstrates that Republicans and Democrats can work across the aisle in seeking to advance important public policies that will benefit the American people and boost our nation’s economy."