by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs
SIA this week endorsed bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would strengthen the protection of trade secrets. The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2015 (S.1890 and H.R. 3326) would create a federal civil cause of action that would empower U.S. companies to protect their trade secrets in federal court. The lead sponsors of the Senate bill, Sens. Hatch (R-UT) and Coons (D-DE), spoke on the Senate floor yesterday in support of the legislation. The lead sponsors of the House bill are Reps. Collins (R-GA) and Nadler (D-NY).
Under current law, there are limited legal remedies for misappropriation of trade secrets. The Defend Trade Secrets Act would provide owners of trade secrets with an additional set of legal tools available to prevent and/or receive compensation for the theft of trade secrets in an era when trade secret theft is often conducted across state or even national borders. In a letter to congressional leaders in support of the legislation, SIA president & CEO John Neuffer wrote:
“In the semiconductor industry, trade secrets include essential intellectual property such as manufacturing processes and techniques, circuit designs, software source code, and business strategies and customer lists. The ability to protect these types of trade secrets has contributed to advances in semiconductor design and manufacturing that have helped enable technological advancements in sectors throughout the economy.
Unfortunately, existing laws are inadequate to address the theft of trade secrets in today’s environment … The Defend Trade Secrets Act would strengthen the protection of trade secrets by providing for a federal civil cause of action. The bills would provide a consistent, harmonized legal framework and help avoid the commercial injury, diminished competitiveness, and loss of employment that can occur when trade secrets are stolen.”
The U.S. semiconductor industry invests about one-fifth of revenues in research and development annually. This R&D creates valuable intellectual property that is the lifeblood of our industry and must be protected. The Defend Trade Secrets Act will help our industry and others protect their valuable IP, and Congress should act swiftly to approve it.
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