News

White House’s new Trade Secret Theft Strategy Underscores Need for Adoption of Voluntary Best Practices

February 21, 2013
Categories: Intellectual Property, Trade Secret Theft

On February 20th, Leslie Benton, CREATe.org’s VP of Stakeholder Engagement, joined government officials and industry representatives at the White House for the launch of the Administration’s Strategy on Mitigating the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets.

Among the strategy’s five pillars is a commitment by the Administration to “encourage companies and industry associations to develop and adopt voluntary best practices” to prevent trade secret theft, the impact of which can be and often is devastating to individual companies and the economy as a whole.  Trade secret theft not only harms businesses, but raises barriers to trade, hampers job creation, and slows economic growth. It sets a precedent for unfair competition and behavior that can have significant consequences for companies large and small.

The launch featured remarks by Victoria A. Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State, Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, and Demetrios Marantis, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative, among others. Each speaker emphasized the need for a coordinated and consistent government approach to the protection of trade secrets and the enforcement of intellectual property rights generally.  The government speakers were followed by a panel of industry experts, including Ambassador Karan Bhatia, VP and Senior Counsel, Global Government Affairs Policy, General Electric, Dean Garfield, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council, and John Powell, General Counsel of American Superconductors, who emphasized the need for companies to do more to protect their own trade secrets.

In addition to the commitment to promote voluntary best practices by private industry to protect trade secrets, the strategy includes the following:

  • Focus diplomatic efforts to protect trade secrets overseas;
  • Enhance domestic law enforcement operations;
  • Improve domestic legislation; and
  • Public awareness and stakeholder outreach.

CREATe.org offers companies practical guidance and tools to help them improve their own systems for protecting intellectual property and working with their supply chain partners to ensure that they are doing the same. The CREATe Leading Practices for Intellectual Property Protection is a scalable and cost-effective solution that includes online assessments, independent evaluations, and training designed to benchmark and improve a company’s existing management systems.

In May of last year, CREATe.org also released a whitepaper titled Trade Secret Theft: Managing the Growing Threat in Supply Chains that highlighted how far-reaching and deeply challenging trade secret theft is companies operating on a global scale. The whitepaper was referenced in the Administration’s Strategy and includes  key guidance for companies, including:

  • Conduct a strategic assessment of trade secrets;
  • Undertake appropriate pre-contractual due diligence;
  • Employ strong contractual protections, backed by enforceable audit rights and penalties;
  • Utilize appropriate operational and security measures; and
  • Ensure appropriate action after a business relationship has ended.

Read more about the Administration’s Strategy here

Read more about CREATe and its resources for companies here

Download CREATe.org’s Trade Secret Theft whitepaper here