President Obama Signs NEC-Backed Trade Secrets Bill
President Obama signs the Defend Trade Secrets Act at the White House. Photo Courtesy of The White House.
On May 11, 2016, President Barack Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act, S. 1890. This new law will provide businesses large and small with better tools to safeguard against the theft of critical trade secrets. The New England Council was proud to support and advocate for this important legislation that will protect American innovation and American jobs.
In recent years, innovative American businesses of all types and sizes have increasingly been the target of sophisticated efforts to steal trade secrets. Trade secrets can include a wide range of information, including manufacturing processes, product development, source code, industrial techniques, formulas, pricing information, and customer lists. Protecting this form of intellectual property is absolutely critical to driving innovation that is so key to continued economic growth and global competitiveness.
While there were previously various state laws in place to address the theft of trade secrets, there were not adequate measures in place at the federal level to address the interstate and international nature of trade secret theft in the 21st century. In July 2015, a bipartisan group of legislators in the House and Senate introduced the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) to address this gap in the federal law. DTSA establishes a federal civil right of action for businesses to protect trade secrets in U.S. federal courts, providing a consistent, harmonized legal framework and minimizing the commercial injury and loss of employment that can result when trade secrets are stolen.
The New England Council and a diverse group of NEC Technology Committee members were part of a broad industry coalition that supported and actively advocated for the bill’s passage. Through letters to the New England Congressional delegation, op-ed pieces in a variety of regional publications, and meetings with numerous Congressional offices, the Council has worked over the past year to build support for DTSA in the New England delegation. As a result of the Council’s and our allies’ efforts, 8 New England Senators and 16 of the region’s Representatives signed on as co-sponsors of the bill. On April 4, the U.S. Senate passed the bill by a vote of 87 -0, and just a few weeks later on April 27, the House followed suit, passing the bill by a vote of 410-2.