Leahy Backs Legislation To Protect Vermont Businesses From Trade Secret Theft

From Trade Secrets to Privacy and Opioids, Judiciary Committee Considers Several Bills Important To Vermont’s Economy; Stage Also Set For Action Next Week On Leahy-Backed Bill To Ramp Up The Fight Against Heroin And Opioid Addiction

WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, January 28, 2016) – The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday passed bipartisan legislation to protect American businesses from trade secrets theft.  At the markup, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted that Vermont businesses rely on trade secrets to protect their intellectual property and emphasized the importance of those protections.

“In Vermont, trade secrets protect the specialized knowledge of woodworkers and artisans who have been crafting heirloom products for generations,” said Leahy, the panel’s leading Democrat member.  “Trade secrets are relied on by countless businesses to help keep their products and services unique, but today trade secret law is the one form of intellectual property protection that currently lacks a federal civil remedy.”

Leahy noted that the bipartisan Defend Trade Secrets Act considered by the Judiciary Committee Thursday will fill this gap in the law, and provide businesses in Vermont and across the country with an improved tool to protect their intellectual property. 

Leahy also successfully added a bipartisan amendment to the legislation that would provide needed protections for whistleblowers who share confidential information in the course of reporting suspected illegal activity to law enforcement or when filing a lawsuit, provided they do so under seal.  The Leahy-authored amendment is supported by the Government Accountability Project and the Project on Government Oversight (POGO).

With Leahy’s support, the Committee also approved several other bills Thursday that are important to Vermonters.  The Judicial Redress Act will extend certain privacy rights in U.S. courts to citizens of those countries with which the U.S. has strong data sharing agreements in place.  Leahy noted “Vermonters have long valued strong privacy protections, so I understand why this bill is a priority for our international partners.”

The Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which Leahy ushered through the Judiciary Committee twice while he served as chairman, was also approved on Thursday.  The bill has long been sought by the victims of the September 11th attacks, including Vermont victims, who seek justice in U.S. courts. 

Next week, the Committee at Leahy’s urging will consider the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which provides a broad array of grants to support and expand state and local efforts to reduce opioid abuse.  Leahy has long fought for additional resources and a more targeted response to the heroin and opioid epidemic, and at a separate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, he highlighted Vermont’s efforts to respond the opioid crisis.

Leahy said the Senate must respond to the growing calls for action to support rural and urban communities affected by this crisis.

“Families in Vermont and throughout the country are calling on us to devote more resources to combat this epidemic – and not just pay lip service to the needs of our communities that are struggling with addiction,” Leahy said.

Results and a webcast of Thursday’s executive business meeting can be found online.  

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