Industrial espionage refers to various activities performed to gain an unfair competitive advantage, rather than for national security purposes. As we discussed in a previous article, the ways in which industrial espionage can affect a company are numerous and include theft of trade secrets and disruption to operation.
Section 1832 of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (the “Act”) criminalizes the theft of trade secrets “intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner.” The trade secret owner is required to take “reasonable measures” to keep the information secret. For individuals, convictions in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1832 can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years or a monetary penalty, or both. For organizations, the fine may be “not more than the greater of $5,000,000 or 3 times the value of the stolen trade secret . . . including expenses for research and design and other costs of reproducing the trade secret.” Section 1832 requires that the products be “produced for” or “placed in” interstate or foreign commerce.