WASHINGTON, DC -- The US House of Representatives has approved a bill calling for severe penalties on those that pass US companies' trade secrets to foreign governments.
H.R. 6029, the Foreign Economic Espionage Penalty Enhancement Act of 2012, passed the House last night. (A companion piece passed the US Senate on Dec. 19.)
In a letter, Victoria Espinel, US intellectual property enforcement coordinator, said the bill would help curtail economic espionage. "This is an important piece of legislation that will ensure that the penalties under the Economic Espionage Act correctly take into account the harm inflicted on US companies that fall victim to this crime by individuals on behalf of a foreign government. The threat to US business by economic espionage coordinated by foreign governments is of particular concern to the Administration. The misappropriation of trade secrets can cripple a company’s competitive advantage in foreign markets, diminish export prospects around the globe, and put American jobs in jeopardy. The passage of this legislation is an important step in providing tougher penalties and serves as deterrence to individuals who would pass trade secrets to foreign governments.
"The [Obama] Administration recognizes the important roles that trade secrets and intellectual property play in the US economy, and we look forward to continuing to work with Congress to improve enforcement of US intellectual property laws."