July 16, 2020

Amidst Report of Russian Hacking, Van Hollen, Sasse Urge Senate to Move Forward on Bipartisan Legislation to Punish Foreign Theft of U.S. Intellectual Property

Senators’ Bill would Punish Russia for Attempts to Steal U.S. I.P. related to COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) urged the Senate to immediately take up consideration of their bipartisan Protecting American Intellectual Property Act, legislation to mandate strong economic penalties on foreign firms and individuals involved in stealing American intellectual property. This legislation is all the more urgent given the breaking report today that Russia has attempted to steal information from researchers involved in coronavirus vaccine development.

“No country should be able to steal our intellectual property with impunity. We must fight back. Russia’s attempt to steal intellectual property related to our development of a COVID-19 vaccine is just the latest example of why we need to act on our bill now. Whether it’s critical scientific research or innovative new technologies, our intellectual property is clearly at risk – and these bad actors deserve more than just a slap on the wrist. Congress has to immediately pass our bipartisan bill to penalize foreign actors who seek to gain a strategic advantage by ripping off the U.S.,” said Senator Van Hollen. 

“The Chinese Communist Party tried hacking American COVID-19 research, and now Moscow is skulking around too. These crooked governments don’t know how to do anything but lie, cheat, and steal. They’re not going to stop stealing American intellectual property until we make them. We have the economic tools to fight back, let’s use them,” said Senator Sasse.  


The Protecting American Intellectual Property Act requires a report to Congress every six months identifying:

  • Any individual or firm that has engaged in, benefitted from, or materially assisted the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets, if that theft constitutes a major threat to the national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability of the United States; and,
  • The chief executive officers and board members of the reported firms and whether those individuals have benefitted from the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets

Subsequently, the bill requires:

  • For any firm identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose either property blocking sanctions or a denial order.
  • For any individual identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose property blocking sanctions and must prohibit the individual’s entry into the United States.
  • The economic penalties imposed terminate if the President certifies to Congress that the individual or firm is no longer engaged in the sanctionable behavior. The legislation also includes a national security waiver. 

The text of the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act is available here