Domestic and Global Contexts
- Elgar Law and Entrepreneurship series
Edited by Lynda J. Oswald and Marisa Anne Pagnattaro
Chapter 6: Employee misappropriation: using Section 337 to combat trade secret theft
The protection of trade secrets continues to be a vexing global challenge. Although it is difficult to quantify the value of intangible intellectual property assets, including trade secrets, they can represent as much as 85 percent of a corporation’s value. Preventing disclosures of trade secrets is of critical importance in the maintenance of corporate value. In fact, the number of U.S. companies doing business in China reporting that intellectual property theft causes “material damage to China operations rose by 12 percentage points, to 34 percent. The percentage of those who reported material damage to global operations also rose by 4 percent, to 14 percent.” According to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, U.S. companies suffered estimated losses of over $300 billion in 2012, due to the theft of trade secrets, with a large share of those losses being due to Chinese cyber espionage. A wide range of companies, including General Motors, Dow Chemical, Cargill, Boeing, and DuPont, are all significantly affected by the loss of trade secrets in the global context. For global employers, protecting trade secrets from employee disclosure is a common problem. Many times, rogue employees play a crucial role in the misappropriation of trade secrets. This was particularly evident in the recent prosecutions of former DuPont employees who were convicted for selling trade secrets to a Chinese competitor.
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