On December 20, 2020, the US Senate unanimously passed a new bipartisan bill designed to punish foreign individuals and corporations involved in intellectual property theft.
The Protecting American Intellectual Property Act was co-authored by Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. The bill requires a report to Congress every six months identifying:
- any individual or firm that has engaged in, benefitted from, or materially assisted the significant 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 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 prohibit U.S. exports to that firm
- 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.
However, the economic sanctions will be terminated if the President certifies to Congress that the individual or firm is no longer engaged in the intellectual property theft. The legislation also includes a national interest waiver.
The Protecting American Intellectual Property Act is another instance where the U.S. government is increasing pressure on China’s use of illicit methods of obtaining technology advances in the U.S. “This is a big step forward. Senator Van Hollen and I have worked hard to get this passed in the Senate — and we urge the House to act quickly and take up this bipartisan legislation. We can’t afford more delay. China’s thieves and hackers have been robbing American companies of our intellectual property, and it’s time we get serious about using our economic tools — like sanctions — to fight back,” said Senator Sasse.
The text of the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act is available here.