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Remarks on Administration’s Strategy to Mitigate the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank
Remarks on Administration’s Strategy to Mitigate the Theft of U.S. Trade Secrets

Thank you, Attorney General Holder and thanks to Victoria Espinel for her leadership on these issues.

Protecting the intellectual property and trade secrets of U.S. companies has never been more critical to our ability to innovate and compete.

Just last year, the Commerce Department studied the impact of industries that are substantial users of intellectual property protections, such as patents and trademarks. We found that nearly 35 percent of our GDP comes from industries that rely heavily on intellectual property. These industries account for more than half of the goods we export by value. And they support about 40 million good-paying jobs.

Trade secrets are a unique form of intellectual property in that – unlike the patents and trademarks we studied – their value comes from other businesses not knowing about them. Their total economic value to our economy is hard to measure, but it is clearly substantial. And, therefore, they require unique protection and enforcement efforts on behalf of the U.S. government.

Trade secrets are crucial to helping our entrepreneurs and businesses start, grow, and innovate. When someone steals a trade secret, it undermines a company’s ability to compete in the global marketplace. It poses a threat to the business, its workers, and our economy overall.

Unfortunately, spying and attempted theft of trade secrets from American businesses is only accelerating.

That’s why we are taking a coordinated government-wide approach to this issue. The Commerce Department is going to play a key role.

For example, our Patent and Trademark Office and our International Trade Administration will be doing more to understand how trade secret protection laws work in the countries where our businesses trade. We will also reach out to foreign governments to help strengthen enforcement, and we will be more active in helping resolve disputes.

In addition, as we all heard last week, the President issued a new Executive Order on cybersecurity. Through it, our National Institute of Standards and Technology is supporting an industry-driven effort to identify and share best practices. We believe that this new Framework will ultimately help improve the resiliency of businesses and prevent theft.

And finally, we are reaching out directly to U.S. businesses operating both here and abroad to educate them in how to protect their own trade secrets. This includes everything from conducting intellectual property awareness campaigns and promoting, to one-on-one meetings where we discuss sensitive concerns that a company might have about a particular market.

Overall, we are going to work more closely with the Justice and State Departments, the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, the intelligence community, with our private sector, and with our trading partners around the world to make sure we are doing everything possible to reduce the threats of trade secret theft.  

My hope is that we will continue to find ways that allow American businesses and workers to compete fairly on a global scale, while ensuring that our entrepreneurial spirit continues to drive America’s prosperity and our economy here at home.

Thank you for your attendance here today.  I look forward to seeing these new efforts move forward.