June 26, 2020

Van Hollen, Sasse Push to Punish Companies, Individuals who Steal U.S. Intellectual Property

Van Hollen, Sasse File NDAA Amendment Mirroring their Bipartisan Protecting American Intellectual Property Act

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have filed a bipartisan amendment to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to mandate strong economic penalties on foreign firms and individuals involved in stealing American intellectual property.

The amendment mirrors the Senators’ bill, the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act, which would levy sanctions on individuals and firms found to engage in, benefit from, or enable the significant and serial theft of U.S. intellectual property.

“The theft of U.S. intellectual property and technology puts our economy and national security at risk. The U.S. cannot sit idly by as foreign companies – often backed by foreign governments – cheat to get ahead of American businesses. These tactics harm our job market, national security, and economic interests. We must act now to put an end to this egregious behavior,” said Senator Van Hollen.

“America has always led in technology and innovation, forcing our adversaries to play catch-up. As our digital world changes, communists in China and other bad actors around the world must know that their cheating won’t go unchecked. It’s time our government recognizes this threat and defends American intellectual property from thieves and hackers. We have the economic tools to fight back, and now is the time to use them,” said Senator Sasse. 

Background on the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act: 

The bill 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 full text of the Senators’ amendment is available here.