Senate to Vote on Trade Secrets Bill

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By Peter Leung

March 17 — The Senate plans to vote April 4 on a bill that would create a federal private cause of action for trade secret theft.

The Senate will take upS. 1890, the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016, under a March 16 unanimous consent agreement. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill with amendments on Jan. 28

Currently, only the U.S. Department of Justice can pursue trade secrets claims in federal court. The bill would allow companies to do so as well. It also would establish a federal standard for what constitutes trade secrets theft, though state laws are left untouched.

The House version of the bill, H.R. 3326, was identical to the Senate bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee amended the latter measure. The last action on the House bill was on Oct. 1, when the Judiciary Committee referred it to the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet.

Changes to the Senate bill by the chamber's Judiciary Committee include:


  • removing the right to file a civil suit merely by being “aggrieved” by a misappropriation;
  • requiring court-issued seizure orders to have more guidance to law enforcement; and
  • making the court responsible for protecting the confidentiality of seized materials, including requiring a special master to return materials unrelated to the trade secrets.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Leung in Washington at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek in Washington at

    For More Information

    Text of S. 1890 is available at:

    Text of H.R. 3326 is available at: