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Coons-Hatch Defend Trade Secrets Act passes Senate unanimously; on to House 

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The U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Defend Trade Secrets Act Monday, legislation introduced by Senators Chris Coons and Orrin Hatch to help combat the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the United States to the theft of corporate trade secrets.

Trade secrets—such as customer lists, formulas, and manufacturing processes—are the only form of U.S. intellectual property that businesses cannot take federal legal action to protect in the event of misuse or theft.  Currently, trade secret owners must rely on state courts or federal prosecutors to protect their rights.

The bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives and receive the President’s signature in the coming weeks.

“For too long, businesses in Delaware and across the country that drive our country’s innovation and economic growth have been losing jobs and revenue because their trade secrets are open to theft,” said Sen. Coons. “I’m thrilled the Senate came together in a bipartisan way to pass our bill that will finally give trade secrets the same legal protections that other forms of critical intellectual property enjoy. It’s a long overdue update that will empower American companies to protect their jobs in the 21st century. I urge the House to pass this bill now so the President can sign it into law as soon as possible.”

“As an innovator, DuPont depends on intellectual property protection—including trade secrets,” said Karen Cochran, associate general counsel for Dupont. “Realizing the full potential of our innovation often includes knowledge-building that can span decades. This work generates a range of intellectual property from patents to trade secrets. DuPont recently defended the trade secrets for one of our well-known products, Kevlar.”

The new act:

  • Creates a uniform federal standard for trade secret misappropriation. A company can craft one set of nondisclosure policies secure in the knowledge that its trade secrets will be protected by federal law.
  • Provides for injunctions and damages, including a narrow, but powerful, ex parte seizure authority when it is needed to prevent the disclosure or further dissemination of a stolen trade secret. The bill also authorizes appropriate final monetary and injunctive relief to account for the economic harm to American companies whose trade secrets are stolen, while also safeguarding the freedom of employees to move from one job to another.
  • Is consistent with the remedies provided for other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, which are all covered by federal civil law.

“Adesis is grateful to Senator Coons for his work on the trade secrets legislation,” said Andrew Cottone, president of chemistry for Adesis, a New Castle custom synthesis company. “Twelve years ago we were the victims of such theft. We witnessed firsthand the job loss, financial loss and technical destruction these actions can have on large and small American companies alike. Adesis is hopeful that with the help of Senators Coons and this legislation, no other companies will have to relive our experiences.”

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