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Criminal Law Intellectual Property Litigation Trade Secrets

Criminal Considerations In Trade Secrets Disputes

Part One of a Three-Part Series
When the international theft of U.S. trade secrets escalated and became a higher priority for domestic entities, trade secrets owners faced difficult challenges in collecting evidence, pursuing civil actions against overseas actors, and successfully obtaining worthwhile and meaningful relief from civil actions alone. These challenges ultimately resulted in increased referrals, investigations, and prosecutions of trade secrets theft under the EEA by federal authorities.


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To combat the growing concerns surrounding trade secret theft, Congress passed the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA), Pub. L. 104–294, 110 Stat. 3488, codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§1831-1839, creating for the first time a cohesive federal framework for criminally prosecuting trade secret theft. The EEA, however, did not provide private citizens the right to initiate civil proceedings against trade secret misappropriation. See, 110 Stat. 3490 (providing the Attorney General may bring civil actions to enjoin EEA violations).

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