Stealing Trade Secrets and Economic Espionage: An Overview of 18 U.S.C. 1831 and 1832 [January 28, 2013]   [open pdf - 283KB]

"The Economic Espionage Act (EEA) outlaws two forms of trade secret theft: theft for the benefit of a foreign entity (economic espionage) and theft for pecuniary gain (theft of trade secrets). Under either proscription, its reach extends to theft from electronic storage. Offenders face imprisonment for not more than 10 years in the case of trade secret theft and not more than 15 years in the case of economic espionage. Individuals may incur fines of not more than the greater of $250,000 or twice the loss or gain associated with the offense for trade secret theft and for economic espionage not more than the greater of $5 million or twice the loss or gain. Organizations are fined more severely, up to the greater of $5 million or twice the gain or loss for trade secret theft, and for economic espionage up to a fine of the greater of $10 million, three times the value of the trade secret, or twice the gain or loss associated with the offense. A court may assess the same sanctions for attempt or conspiracy to commit either offense. A sentencing court must order the defendants to pay victim restitution, and the government may confiscate any property that is derived from or used to facilitate either offense. The government may seek to enjoin violations, but the EEA creates no explicit private cause of action. Conduct that violates the EEA's proscriptions may also violate other federal prohibitions, however. Some, like the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, in addition to imposing criminal penalties, do authorize victims to sue for damages and other forms of relief under some circumstances."

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CRS Report for Congress, R42681
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