The Obama Administration recently released a report outlining a new strategy to combat the theft of U.S. trade secrets, by ramping up business, diplomatic, law enforcement and legislative efforts to protect this vital category of intellectual property. The “Administration Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets” included inputs from the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Treasury, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

As has been previously reported on Gibbons IP Law Alert, trade secrets protection is increasingly receiving the attention of state and federal legislators intent on stemming the tide of trade secrets misappropriation. It now appears that the Obama Administration is making trade secrets a focal point of its intellectual property enforcement strategy, recognizing that “[o]ur single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people.”

The White House report identified a five-point plan, which includes focused diplomatic efforts to protect trade secrets overseas, e.g., through international engagement, especially with countries where theft of U.S. trade secrets is rampant, such as China; reaching out to businesses in the private sector and encouraging companies to share their “best practices” for deterring trade secret theft; enhancing domestic law enforcement operations; improving relevant domestic laws, including commissioning a study to determine whether new legislation was needed; and public awareness outreach. The report also cited several high profile examples of trade secret theft, whose victims included General Motors, Ford, DuPont, Cargill Inc. and Dow Chemical.

To project the importance of the new strategy, the Obama Administration advised State Department officials to stress the importance of protecting U.S. trade secrets during diplomatic meetings, as well as having the U.S. Trade Representative stand behind these efforts during negotiations with U.S. trading partners.

Gibbons P.C. will continue to monitor the evolution of state, federal and international trade secrets laws, and to provide counsel and best practices on all aspects of this important area of law.

Owen J. McKeon is a Director in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department. Jillian A. Centanni, an Associate in the Gibbons Intellectual Property Department, co-authored this post.