U.S. Senate unanimously approves trade secrets bill

“The U.S. Senate on Monday approved legislation to give companies greater legal protections for their commercial secrets and allow them for the first time to sue in federal court if they are stolen,” Richard Cowan and Andrew Chung report for Reuters. “The Defend Trade Secrets Act passed 87-0, amid strong White House backing.”

“Supporters hope the unanimous vote will boost the bill’s prospects in the House of Representatives,” Cowan and Chung report. “‘Some thieves would rather not go through the trouble of developing products themselves; they’d rather just steal the fruits of others’ creativity,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in urging passage of a bill he argued would ‘help protect American innovation.'”

“The bill has received support from a wide array of companies, including Boeing Co and Johnson & Johnson, and trade groups such as the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a software lobby whose members include Apple Inc,” Cowan and Chung report. “The legislation would give companies the right to sue in federal court to recover damages, enforce injunctions and prevent the further dissemination of stolen trade secrets.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The House should act quickly to pass its version of this bill.


      1. Indeed, true.

        Now the question is what is the exact language of the proposed bill and what sanctions and damages can be awarded to a party that stole trade secrets.

        If items are “secret”, then who in the company that owns the secret must be told? What if a person who is not told and doesn’t know it is a secret, goes to a competitor and tells or “practices” what he knows, not knowing it is “trade secret?”

        I think a law on this sounds fine, but I sure want to read the fine print.

  1. The trouble with patent infringement cases is that all you have to do is change the product enough that it can “reasonably” be seen as different. Even if it’s based on stolen ideas.

    What this bill does is allow companies to recoup stolen work product, and prevent competitors from blatantly using an “inspired” design. If they can show the business in question purchased a few of your products and reverse engineered them, or based their product design on your own internal work product? Then they can sure for an injunction and trade ban, as well as a monetary settlement.

    1. That’s not what this bill does. Trade secrets are things that a company does that it keeps others from knowing about, not publicly viewable design decisions.
      This bill makes it easier for a company to sue and get damages and injunctions when someone else steals a _trade secret_ – not the second word “secret.” It means something. This isn’t about “inspired” design based on what a competitor can see, it’s about a competitor or third-party getting access to a secret production method, or internal code, etc.

  2. Too little too late. The cat is loose, the train has departed and the chickens have flown the coop…already.
    The US government defence contractors are probably rolling their eyeballs at the irony of US military secrets openly on display in China’s latest jets, helicopters, transport aircraft and battlefield weaponry.
    May as well make encryption illegal for all the good this bill proposal will achieve.

    1. Already flown the coop? The “trade secret” moniker covers an enormous rang of things, including processes, procedures, team structures, organizational systems, and even things so trite as naming conventions — not just designs. It also includes patentable items and processes that have yet to be submitted to the USTPO.
      When some idiot wants to stoke his ego by taking and sharing a photo of the inside of an iPhone housing or something, a competitor could see a detail that would indicate the placement, size and depth of a component, allowing the competitor to make an educated guess of where that product was going, the company’s product strategy, and so-on. This would allow the competitor to make changes that could steal business from the company. Likewise, if a company is researching certain types of materials, employing labs that specialize in things that would indicate where a product is going, the same thing applies.
      This is serious stuff. Companies need legal protections.

  3. I am suspicious of motive every time Rightwinger and super corporatists McConnel and the lobbyists for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce back anything self-serving such as this. You know that McConnel will go through that “revolving door” to get hired by a corporation that will benefit hugely by this likely this example of legislative disparity.

    One rarely hears Congress passing more protections for workers. This one is about giving more protections to the corporation, typical. It also sounds as if Wall St. banks and Bain Capital Holdings and the Koch Bros. will take full advantage of this corporate right to further punish workers.

  4. Too bad it will likely only protect companies from that nation but that’s how hypocrites work:

    “If there’s information at Siemens that’s beneficial to U.S. national interests – even if it doesn’t have anything to do with national security – then they’ll take that information nevertheless,” Snowden said, according to ARD, which recorded the interview in Russia where he has claimed asylum.In text released ahead of a lengthy interview to be broadcast on Sunday, ARD TV quoted Snowden saying the NSA does not limit its espionage to issues of national security and he cited German engineering firm, Siemens as one target.”

    Too bad there are not others like Snowden revealing what’s going on, not that there any doubt about that nation any more.

  5. Any time the Republicans, Democrats, and Obama agree on something, and it flies through Congress to Obama’s desk, a chill goes down my spine. It’s rarely a good thing.


    1. Oh, but note from the source article:

      The House version of the bill has more than 120 sponsors, but the House Judiciary Committee has not yet considered it and it was not clear whether it would act in coming months.

  6. Good. Maybe this’ll stop all the “leaked” crap about new Apple stuff and spoil the events for everyone because we all know what’s going to be announced hardware wise, and that’s just about all there is.

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