On February 20, 2013, the White House released the Administration’s Strategy on Mitigating the theft of U.S. Trade Secrets. The strategy includes five”action items” which are aimed at protecting U.S. innovation and includes diplomatic efforts to protect trade secrets abroad and working with the private sector to promote best practices in protecting trade secrets. Specifically, the action items are as follows:
- Focus Diplomatic Efforts to Protect Trade Secrets Overseas
- Promote Voluntary Best Practices by Private Industry to Protect Trade Secrets
- Enhance Domestic Law Enforcement Operations
- Improve Domestic Legislation
- Public Awareness and Stakeholder Outreach
The action items call for a combination of foreign and domestic policies to help protect U.S. trade secrets.
It is encouraging that the Administration recognizes that the theft of trade secrets has a negative impact on the U.S. economy and that it is attempting to do something about it. However, the plan calls for continuing to apply sustained and coordinated diplomatic pressure on other countries to discourage trade secret theft. “In other words, the government is going to keep doing what it has historically done. The problem is, despite the government’s past efforts overseas, foreign based cyber-attacks have recently increased dramatically.
The main upsides to the plan are that the government is going to cooperate with businesses by sharing information about electronic threats and increase domestic law enforcement efforts through federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). But, commentators note that it will likely takes years to see any effective result. The plan states that the FBI has increased the number of domestic investigations regarding the theft of trade secrets by 29% since 2010 which is when the Attorney General’s Task Force on Intellectual Property was established. Unfortunately, only time will tell if the White House’s plan will be effective or nothing more than a little, too late.”