Today, U.S. Senators Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) introduced bipartisan legislation to mandate strong economic penalties on firms and individuals involved in stealing American intellectual property. The Senators’ legislation, the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act, would require sanctions on individuals and firms found to engage in, benefit from, or enable the significant and serial theft of U.S. intellectual property.

“We need to stop pulling punches and go after thieves and hackers," said Senator Sasse. "It’s time for the U.S. Government to stop leaving an open door for China and other adversaries to steal intellectual property and undercut our strength. We have serious economic tools to fight back, let’s use them.”

“For too long foreign companies – often enabled by foreign governments – have stolen U.S. technology, which harms the American economy and our national security. The U.S. cannot stand idly by as these companies cheat their way to success at the expense of American businesses and jobs,” said Senator Van Hollen. “This bipartisan legislation will help end foreign theft of our intellectual property and will send a strong signal to bad actors across the globe. I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Sasse, and I urge the Congress to take it up immediately.”  

Background:

The Protecting American Intellectual Property Act requires a report to Congress every six months identifying:

  • Any individual or firm that has engaged in, benefitted from, or materially assisted the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets, if that theft constitutes a major threat to the national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability of the United States; and, 
  • The chief executive officers and board members of the reported firms and whether those individuals have benefitted from the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets.
Subsequently, the bill requires:
  • For any firm identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose either property blocking sanctions or a denial order.
  • For any individual identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose property blocking sanctions and must prohibit the individual’s entry into the United States.
The economic penalties imposed terminate if the President certifies to Congress that the individual or firm is no longer engaged in the sanctionable behavior. The legislation also includes a national security waiver.

The text of the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act is available here.