The federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) received strong support from both the White House and the Senate on April 4, 2016. The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy stressing the importance of trade secret protection to promote innovation and minimize “threats to American businesses, the U.S. economy, and national security interests.” Additionally, the Senate passed the DTSA with a unanimous vote. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, one of the authors of the DTSA, emphasized that trade secrets are an “essential form of intellectual property” and trade secret theft stifles innovation. Therefore, “U.S. companies must be able to protect their trade secrets in Federal Court.” The DTSA allows just that: a federal cause of action for trade secret misappropriation.
The White House discussed how the DTSA would provide a “civil private cause of action for trade secret theft that would provide businesses with a more uniform, reliable, and predictable way to protect their valuable trade secrets anywhere in the country.” Currently, trade secret law is a matter of state law, which varies state-to-state. However, in our global economy, both the White House and Senate recognize the importance of affording trade secrets the same amount of uniform, federal protection as other forms of intellectual property such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights.
The protection of American innovation and ingenuity often has the ability to abate political gridlock. The House of Representatives is now considering its version of the DTSA (H.R. 3326), with over 120 supporters. With such unified support, it would not be surprising to see the DTSA pass quickly into law.