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April 27, 2016
WASHINGTON, DC — Covington represented a cross-industry coalition of companies in assisting in the development of legislative language and persuading Congress to pass the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (S.1980). The Senate unanimously passed the legislation on April 4 by a vote of 87-0, and the House of Representatives approved the bill with an overwhelming 410-2 vote on April 27.
Trade secret theft costs American companies billions of dollars every year, but trade secrets are currently the only form of intellectual property for which there is no right to bring a civil action for misappropriation in federal court. The bipartisan Defend Trade Secrets Act will bolster economic growth and job creation by ensuring that the most innovative companies have better tools to protect their trade secrets from theft. The Act will create a federal civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation that is modeled on the Uniform Trade Secrets Act. It will allow a victim of trade secret theft to obtain a seizure order in federal court with a showing of extraordinary circumstances, but this narrow seizure process includes important safeguards. The bill was also crafted to preserve the freedom of employees to move from one job to another.
Covington’s Public Policy and Government Affairs team spent more than two years building and working with the coalition, which included among others Boeing, Eli Lilly, General Electric, Medtronic, Micron, Microsoft, Monsanto, Pfizer, and Procter & Gamble, creating an even wider network in support of the bill beyond the coalition’s formal members, and bringing together companies and trade associations that are often at odds on intellectual property issues. The team also worked closely with the firm’s substantive trade secrets experts to help develop the proposal and to evaluate changes to the bill throughout the process.
Covington’s Public Policy & Government Affairs practice helps clients worldwide achieve critical business objectives by combining legal, political, and policy expertise to provide strategic advice and advocacy. With more than 120 former government officials, diplomats, and regulators backed by global corporate and litigation practices, Covington helps clients turn government-related insight into practical advice for doing business. The firm is recognized among the best public policy and government affairs firms in the U.S. and Europe by Chambers, Legal 500, and The National Law Journal.