WASHINGTON The Senate last night passed the bipartisan Defend Trade Secrets Act to shield American innovators against growing instances of intellectual property theft involving valuable proprietary information. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley convened a hearing on trade secrets theft last December and steered the bill to committee passage earlier this year. The bill passed the full Senate by a vote of 87-0.
Iowa-based DuPont Pioneer was the victim in a high profile 2013 trade secrets case in which six foreign nationals conspired to steal engineered corn seeds in order to benefit a foreign company. The seeds were the product of $30 million to $40 million in ag research, according to federal prosecutors. The Defend Trade Secrets Act would create a new avenue for companies like DuPont Pioneer to pursue civil claims against trade secret thieves in federal court and protect against the dissemination of valuable intellectual property.
"Innovators of all sizes are increasingly reliant on trade secrets to expand their businesses and serve their customers, but this proprietary information has also become a growing object of economic espionage. In Iowa, we've seen first-hand how some of our most innovative agricultural companies, like Pioneer, have been targeted by trade secret thieves. This bill provides new tools for businesses to fight back against bad actors and prevent thieves from disseminating valuable trade secrets. I was eager to move this bill through the Senate Judiciary Committee, and now that the Senate has passed it, the House should take swift action to protect American ingenuity," Grassley said.
Trade secrets are an increasingly important aspect of intellectual property, but our patchwork of state laws often provides little reprieve for victims of trade secret misappropriation when thieves are able to quickly travel across state lines and utilize emerging technology to aid in their theft. The Defend Trade Secrets Act establishes a federal civil remedy for trade secret theft that will result in uniform national litigation standards for trade secret theft cases. The bill allows victims to quickly move a case to federal court without preempting state laws. It will also help to spur future innovation by protecting this valuable form of intellectual property. The bill was introduced by senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Christopher Coons (D-Del.), and is cosponsored by Grassley and 62 other senators.
The Defend Trade Secrets Act is the 17th piece of legislation reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee under Chairman Grassley to be passed by the full Senate. Each bill cleared by the committee has been bipartisan.