This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In a world driven by innovation, American businesses large and small are setting the global standard for creativity and innovation. But the next generation of cutting-edge materials, semiconductors, devices, software applications and high-tech services does not come cheap. America's most innovative companies thrive because they invest in research and development.
The confidential know-how that results from this investment including software code, formulas, unique designs, manufacturing processes, industrial techniques and more is increasingly a key part of the intellectual property of American companies. These proprietary technologies are the lifeblood of high-tech American companies of all sizes.
But the theft of these trade secrets is a growing problem in today's global economy, as advances in connectivity have made data more accessible than ever. Increasingly, competitors and foreign governments seek to gain a competitive edge by shortcutting years of costly research and development.
The impact of this theft on the American economy is profound. Reports estimate that trade secret theft costs the U.S. economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. Trade secret theft is a serious threat to our position as a global technology leader and hurts job creation.
Despite their importance to our economy, trade secrets lack critical legal protections. While a federal law makes trade secret theft a crime, it does not allow the victim to sue and recover damages or obtain an injunction against further use of the trade secrets. Federal law enforcement can be an invaluable tool, but the FBI has limited resources and can't pursue all cases of trade secret theft. Instead, trade secret owners must seek relief under a patchwork of state laws that have not kept pace with the increasingly interstate and international nature of trade secret theft. Despite significant investments in data security, American companies are vulnerable to highly sophisticated efforts to steal our know-how, and it is critical that our laws keep pace.
Congress is considering legislation to modernize the law and protect all existing and future trade secrets by allowing trade secrets owners to sue in federal court to protect their own interests, and giving the courts power to prevent the stolen trade secret from being shipped overseas.
We are grateful that the bill's lead proponent is Utah's Sen. Orrin Hatch, whose consensus-driven approach has produced legislation that will benefit innovators in all industries, unifying groups that have often been at odds on other intellectual property issues. The bill enjoys broad, bipartisan support with 65 Senate sponsors and is scheduled for a vote in the Senate after its Easter break.
In addition to its bipartisan Senate support, the legislation is supported by companies in the technology space and beyond. Innovators in semiconductors, software and biotech have recognized that the new legislation will enable them to protect their proprietary, cutting-edge products more effectively. Beyond the tech sector, the coalition of industries backing the law includes nearly every other sector of the economy.
There is nearly universal agreement on the need for a federal remedy for trade secret theft, and Micron is proud to support legislation that reflects a rare consensus among lawmakers. Strong trade secrets protection is essential for America's global competitiveness because it promotes an environment conducive to cutting-edge research, development, and collaboration. Enacting the bill will have an immediate, positive impact on innovative companies that create jobs in this country. We strongly support the bipartisan efforts of Hatch, and we urge Congress to move quickly to pass this important legislation.
Guy Blalock is co-executive officer at IM Flash in Lehi.