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​photo byManu_H/flickr

President Approves New Laws on Trade Secrets and Surveillance

The 113th Congress is officially underway. However, some old business from the 112th Congress is only now reaching President Barack Obama’s desk. He recently signed two bills, one on trade secrets and one on surveillance, into law.

The Theft of Trade Secrets Clarification Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-236) amends the EconomicEspionage Act of 1996 to apply the prohibition against the theft of trade secrets intended to be used in interstate commerce even if those products or services are not directly used in commerce.

The new law prohibits the theft of a trade secret that is “related to a product or service used in or intended for use in interstate or foreign commerce.” Prior to this new law, a trade secret was more narrowly defined as “related to or included in a product that is produced for or placed in interstate or foreign commerce.”

The legislation was prompted by a decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in 2011. In the case,U.S. v. Aleynikov, the court ruled that the theft of proprietary source code by a employee was not trade secret theft because it was not directly used in interstate commerce, though the company did use it internally to create an advantage in the marketplace.

Another new law,P.L. 112-645, extends the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for another five years, through December 31, 2017. If the amendments had not been reauthorized, they would have expired at the end of 2012. FISA allows the federal government to surveil and intercept communications of certain persons located outside the United States.