Defend Trade Secrets Act for agribusiness makes way through legislative process

The Defend Trade Secrets Act is expected to become law after passing in the House. | File photo

Trade secrets are increasingly useful in the agricultural industry in order to be competitive, but they are considered a form of intellectual property. 

Now, all 50 states need to agree the information is a trade secret to protect it from being stolen, which is being discussed in Congress through the Defend Trade Secrets Act.

The Defend Trade Secrets Act, approved by the Senate on April 4, will amend the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 against trade secret theft and authorize a private civil suit in federal court. The legislation will create a uniform standard for trade secret misappropriation by expanding the 1996 act; extend the statute of limitations on trade secret actions from the current three years in most states to five years; provide parties with opportunities to stop the theft from continuing and obtain enhanced money damages (triple damages instead of the typical double damages available under state law now) to account for the significant economic harm to the trade secret owners caused by the disclosure or theft; and create remedies for trade secret misappropriation similar to those in place for other forms of intellectual property.

President Barack Obama supports the Defend Trade Secrets Act, which is expected to become law after passing in the House in the end of April.

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