April 21, 2021

Van Hollen, Sasse Reintroduce Bill to Punish Foreign Companies, Individuals for IP Theft

 Today, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) reintroduced the bipartisan Protecting American Intellectual Property Act, legislation to mandate strong economic penalties on firms and individuals involved in stealing American intellectual property. The Senators’ bill requires sanctions on individuals and firms found to engage in, benefit from, or enable the significant and serial theft of U.S. intellectual property. The Senators’ legislation was passed unanimously by the Senate in December 2020.

“Many foreign companies, and especially those based in China, are working overtime to steal U.S. technology – damaging our economy, harming U.S. job creation, and threatening our national security in the process. The U.S. must act to ensure these companies – and the governments enabling them – face meaningful consequences for their attempts to cheat the system,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This bill draws a line in the sand – outlining clear repercussions these bad actors will face if they steal vital, cutting-edge American technology. I’m glad to work on this bipartisan effort with Senator Sasse, and given the unanimous support our bill received last Congress, we’ll be pushing to get this done quickly.”

“We have to do more to protect American intellectual property from hackers and cheaters. Stealing our IP is routine for China’s thieves — getting serious about combating their actions by using tough economic tools, like sanctions, is a good place for us to start. This bipartisan legislation is a no-brainer,” said Senator Sasse.


The Protecting American Intellectual Property Act requires a report to Congress within six months, and annually thereafter, identifying:

·       Any individual or firm that has engaged in, benefitted from, or provided support for the significant 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 theft of U.S. trade secrets.

Subsequently, the bill requires:

·       For any firm identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose at least five sanctions from a comprehensive menu consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. Among others, the menu includes property blocking sanctions, export prohibitions, the prohibition of loans from U.S. and international financial institutions, procurement sanctions, and prohibition of banking transactions.

·       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 interest waiver.

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