On July 27, US Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), who serves on the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) proposed legislation that provides additional resources to small business owners and local law enforcement agencies for combating ongoing theft of intellectual property by foreign actors. The American IDEA (IP Defense and Enforcement Advancement) Act would provide resources in defending against actors in countries on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Priority Watch List, including China, Russia, India, Indonesia and Venezuela. In particular, the American IDEA Act would:

  • Direct the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study how the federal government can improve protection of the IP of US manufacturers from actors in countries listed on the Special 301 Priority Watch List.
  • Direct the US GAO to study whether the federal government can use diplomatic and/or trade channels to 1) assist those listed countries to improve their IP enforcement capacities, and 2) recover financial losses stemming from unlawful use of IP from those listed countries.
  • Reauthorize the Intellectual Property Enforcement Program at the US Department of Justice to support state, local and tribal law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting crimes related to IP theft.
  • Establish an IP protection legal aid program to provide no-cost or low-cost legal advice to small businesses on defending themselves from IP theft.

Congress continues to explore ways to address the ongoing and increasing theft of IP from US companies, including patents, trade secrets and bootleg software, which is estimated to cost between $225-$600 billion annually. The American IDEA Act appears to be another tool aimed at assisting small and large US businesses to safeguard their IP.