LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Rep. Zoe Lofgren Proposes New Legislation, Including A Civil Cause Of Action For Trade Secret Misappropriation

shutterstock_84794962We previously reported on the downpour of recent trade secret activity in Congress.  Last week, Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-Cal.) added to the deluge by introducing two bills bearing on trade secret misappropriation: (1) the Private Right of Action Against Theft of Trade Secrets Act of 2013, a bill to amend the Economic Espionage Act to provide for a federal civil cause of action, and (2) Aaron’s Law Act of 2013, a bill to amend the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act in light of computer programmer Aaron Swartz’s suicide.

We’ve updated our primer on the recent trade secret-related legislation below:

 

 

Bill Sponsors What’s It About? Status
Private Right of Action Against Theft of Trade Secrets Act of 2013 Rep. Zoe Lofgren
(D-Cal.)
  • Introduced in the House on June 20, 2013, the bill would add a provision to 18 U.S.C. § 1832 that creates a private cause of action for the theft of trade secrets.
  • Under this amendment, reverse engineering is explicitly not actionable.
Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Aaron’s Law Act of 2013 Rep. Zoe Lofgren
(D-Cal.)
et al.
Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
Cyber Economic Espionage Accountability Act Rep. Mike Rogers
(R-Mich.) and Rep. Tim Ryan
(D-Ohio)
  • Introduced June 6, 2013, the bill broadly aims to secure the United States against cyber attacks sponsored by foreign governments.
  • The bill calls for the President to identify foreign government officials whom the President determines, “based on credible information,” are responsible for cyber theft of United States intellectual property.
  • The bill makes the identified persons ineligible to be admitted to the United States.
  • The bill directs the Secretary of State and Secretary of Homeland Security to revoke the visa of any such identified person.
  • The bill imposes financial sanctions, enabling the President to freeze property transactions by the identified individuals.
Referred to the Foreign Affairs, Judiciary and Financial Services Committees.
Deter Cyber Theft Act Sen. Carl Levin
(D-Mich.)
et al.
  • Introduced May 7, 2013, the bill would establish a “watch list” and “priority watch list” of countries that facilitate or engage in cyber theft of trade secrets from the United States.
  • As we previously reported, the bill would also require the President to direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to bar imports from foreign countries on the watch list.
Referred to the Committee on Finance.
Strengthening and Enhancing Cybersecurity by Using Research, Education, Information, and Technology Act (“SECURE IT”) Rep. Marsha Blackburn
(R-Tenn.)
  • Introduced April 10, 2013, SECURE IT seeks to, among other things, facilitate the sharing of cyber threat information and create new deterrents for cyber criminals.
  • For instance, the act creates a limited exemption from antitrust laws for the sharing of cyber threat information between private entities. It further provides that an entity may disclose cyber threat information to any entity to assist with the investigation of threats to cybersecurity. (This portion of the bill might face the same opposition as CISPA — see below.)
  • SECURE IT further requires that federal agencies be informed of significant cyber incidents involving their federal information systems and that agencies adopt technologies to detect and remediate cyber intrusions.
  • The bill aims to amend certain provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to include new criminal penalties for “aggravated damage” to certain “critical infrastructure” computers, such as those that control water supplies, electrical power delivery, and financial transactions.
Referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.
Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (“CISPA”) Rep. Mike Rogers
(R-Mich.)
et al.
  • First introduced in the House on November 30, 2011, and most recently re-introduced on February 13, 2013, the act aims to permit information sharing about possible cybersecurity threats among government agencies and private companies.
  • CISPA has divided the House and Senate and has faced opposition by privacy and civil liberties organizations.
The bill passed the House and was referred to the Senate but has not shown signs of advancement.  We reported earlier that the Senate would not be taking up the bill and that President Obama threatened to veto the bill because of privacy concerns.