Senators Hatch, Coons: Trade Secrets Bill Ready for Markup, Floor Vote

After a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the bipartisan, bicameral Defend Trade Secrets Act, authored by U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chris Coons (D-Del), the Senators said that overwhelming, bipartisan committee support and backing of key industry leaders shows that the bill is ready to be voted out of the Judiciary Committee and considered on the Senate floor. 

The Defend Trade Secrets Act will help combat the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the United States to the theft of corporate trade secrets.

The bill is backed by nine members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including: Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).

“To safeguard American ingenuity and give companies the protections they deserve, Congress should act now to pass the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which Senator Coons and I authored earlier this year,” said Senator Hatch. “Not only has our bill attracted overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress; it has also garnered endorsements from a wide-array of industry stakeholders who know firsthand the economic losses caused by trade secret theft.  Both Republicans and Democrats can agree that this bill is a win for American property rights and innovation. Why wouldn’t we move this bill now?” 

“Today’s hearing demonstrated that we need this bill now more than ever as more and more American companies are losing jobs and revenue because they lack the ability to defend their trade secrets under federal civil law,” said Senator Coons. “Companies in Delaware and across the country who drive innovation and economic growth deserve the same legal protections that other forms of critical intellectual property enjoy. I urge my colleagues to listen to the testimony from today if they have any doubt of the need for this bill that has strong support across a diverse array of industries, and I’m determined to work with with Hatch to see this bill across the finish line.”  

At the hearing today, testimony from representatives from a variety of industries, including Delaware-based DuPont, explained the need for a federal private right-of-action to give companies the ability to protect their trade secrets in federal court.   Currently, civil trade secret laws vary state-to-state, and state courts can lack the streamlined procedures and remedies necessary to stop a trade secret from being lost forever.  Trade secret theft puts American jobs at risk and threaten incentives for continued investment in research and development in the U.S.

“As an innovator, DuPont depends on intellectual property protection—including trade secrets,” testified Karen Cochran, Associate General Counsel and Chief IP Counsel, DuPont. “Realizing the full potential of our innovation often includes knowledge-building that can span decades. This work generates a range of intellectual property from patents to trade secrets. DuPont recently defended the trade secrets for one of our well-known products, Kevlar®. This experience brought about our realization of the importance of S. 1890 and updating trade secret protection and remedies.”

The Defend Trade Secrets Act would:

  • Harmonize U.S. law by building on the Economic Espionage Act to create a uniform standard for trade secret misappropriation. Companies will be able to craft one set of nondisclosure policies secure in the knowledge that federal law will protect their trade secrets.  
  • Provide for injunctions and damages, to preserve evidence, prevent disclosure, and account for the economic harm to American companies whose trade secrets are stolen without preventing employee mobility.
  • Be consistent with the remedies provided for other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, which are all covered by federal civil law.

The bill is supported by the Association of Global Automakers, Inc., Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), The Boeing Company, Boston Scientific, BSA | The Software Alliance (BSA), Caterpillar Inc., Corning Incorporated, Eli Lilly and Company, General Electric, Honda, IBM, Illinois Tool Works Inc., Intel, The Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO), International Fragrance Association, North America, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Micron, National Alliance for Jobs and Innovation (NAJI), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), NIKE, The Procter & Gamble Company, Siemens Corporation, Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and United Technologies Corporation.