Trade secret protection under President-elect Trump

by Dentons


Without question, US companies face a growing and daily threat from rival companies and foreign governments. Thieves operating in cyberspace and using sophisticated technologies can quickly steal and transfer massive quantities of sensitive data, often while remaining anonymous. According to a 2013 bipartisan commission report, US businesses lose approximately $300 billion annually as a result of this cross-border IP theft.[1] The report notes that foreign sources have, in particular, targeted sensitive information and technology owned by US companies.[2] The threat to US trade secrets is also on the rise due to the fact that many US companies have overseas operations that may, through the use of foreign servers, unknowingly be exposing valuable information concerning customers, internal standards, manufacturing, suppliers, production and sales.[3] The total dollar impact of trade secret theft is difficult to quantity, given that many business are either unaware of—or reluctant to report—trade secret thefts.

Amid increasing concerns that US trade secrets are insufficiently protected, lawmakers have enacted a series of laws, starting with the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA). More recently, in May 2016, President Obama signed into law the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA). Now it appears that Congress may be poised to support further law and policy efforts to enhance trade secret protection. In the party platform it unveiled in July 2016, the GOP identified IP theft as a national security issue, and called for “strong action by Congress and a new Republican president to enforce intellectual property laws against all infringers, whether foreign or domestic.”[4]

In addition to potential legislative and/or policy action, we may see an increase in criminal enforcement efforts. In the new administration, the Department of Justice may pursue additional Section 1831 cases under the EEA. Whether, and to what extent, President-elect Trump’s nominee for US Attorney General, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, follows this course of action remains to be seen.

During President-elect Trump's campaign, he signaled that his administration would “enforce stronger protections" against foreign "hackers and counterfeit goods" and take "swift, robust and unequivocal” action in response to such thefts.[5] He also vowed to use every “lawful presidential power to remedy trade disputes if China does not stop stealing American trade secrets and engaging in other illegal activities, including the application of tariffs consistent with Sections 201 and 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 and Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.”[6] President-elect Trump also characterized as “de facto intellectual property theft” China's policy of requiring US trading partners to transfer technology to Chinese competitors.[7]

President-elect Trump’s activities outside the White House also indicate the value he places on commercialization and protection of IP. Federal court records show that President-elect Trump has been involved in half a dozen federal trademark lawsuits over the past ten years, and that the Trump organization has been even more active before the US Patent and Trademark Office (typically attempting to block registrations based on a claim of confusion).[8] He also attempted to protect the disclosure of perceived trade secrets in the recently settled Trump University fraud cases.

President-elect Trump’s policies with respect to protecting trade secrets from theft or misappropriation remain to be seen as his administration and priorities take shape. Dentons will keep you apprised of legal and political developments as they unfold.



[1] Report, Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, National Bureau of Asian Research (May 2013), 11.

[4] Available at

[5] Available at






DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Dentons | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Dentons on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.