On Wednesday September 17, 2014, the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Defend Trade Secrets Act. The act would create a federal private right of action for trade secret theft.
An amendment introduced by some Democrats sought to strike the ex parte seizure provisions that critics feel could be used for anti-competitive purposes; however, that amendment was voted down.
The action by the Judiciary Committee sets the Act up for a full House vote on the legislation. If the Act passes it would allow for civil trade secrets lawsuits under the Economic Espionage Act. Currently, that Act provides only for criminal trade secrets cases brought by federal prosecutors. Civil lawsuits are currently limited to claims brought under state law, mostly involving the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.
A companion bill is pending before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. While that bill was debated last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee has yet to take formal action.
The next step is for the bill to be considered on the floor of the House. Unfortunately, any such consideration is unlikely to take place until after the upcoming elections.
Benjamin Fink is known for his work in noncompete, trade secret and competition-related disputes. A shareholder at Berman Fink Van Horn, Ben concentrates his practice in business and employment litigation.