On April 4, 2016, the Senate unanimously approved the Defend Trade Secrets Act (S.1890), which will establish a basis for federal jurisdiction over trade secret claims and provide important new tools for business owners to protect their trade secrets. The legislation is expected to pass the House of Representatives and has received strong support from President Obama.
The Act would amend the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 to create a new private civil cause of action for misappropriation of trade secrets related to a product or service in interstate or foreign commerce. Importantly, the Act will establish a uniform standard for trade secrets nationwide, and will authorize provisional remedies beyond the injunctions and restraining orders already provided for under existing civil procedure. A trade secret owner may apply for a court order to seize specific assets in order to prevent the dissemination of trade secrets if the court makes specific findings, including that an immediate and irreparable injury will occur if seizure is not ordered. A plaintiff under the Act may also seek permanent injunctive relief, money damages based on actual losses or reasonable royalties, punitive damages and—where the misappropriation was willful or malicious—reasonable attorneys’ fees.