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On January 5, 2023, President Biden signed the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act into law. This law seeks to deter the theft of US intellectual property by non-US actors by threatening to impose economic sanctions on those engaged in trade secrets theft. This law adds to existing measures available under US law, such as criminal prosecution, civil lawsuits, and/or designation to a US restricted parties list such as the Entity List (maintained by the US Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security). (See our prior Video Chat here regarding Entity List designations related to trade secret theft.)

Specifically, the law requires the President to produce a report to Congress within six months of the enactment of the law and annually thereafter, identifying:

  1. Any foreign individual or entity that has knowingly engaged in, benefitted from, the significant theft of US trade secrets, if that theft (a) occurred on or after the law’s enactment, and (b) is reasonably likely to result in, or materially contributed, to a significant threat to the national security, foreign policy, economic health, or financial stability of the United States;
  2. Any foreign individual or entity that has provided significant financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of  or to benefit significantly from such theft;
  3. Any foreign entity that is owned or controlled by or has acted for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person identified under (i) or (ii); and
  4. The chief executive officers and board members of any foreign entity identified under (i) or (ii).

Once the report is compiled, the law requires the President to:

  • Impose five or more sanctions from a comprehensive list against the entities identified in the report, including, among others, property blocking sanctions (i.e., designation as a Specially Designated National); inclusion on the Entity List; prohibitions on loans from US financial institutions; US Government procurement bans; and prohibitions on investments in the entities identified; and
  • Impose property blocking sanctions and prohibit entry into the United States against the individuals identified in the report.

Under the law, sanctions may be waived if the President determines that the waiver is in the national interest of the United States and the President notifies Congress within 15 days of the waiver being issued. The law’s requirements are currently set to terminate after seven years. 

The law provides another important enforcement tool for trade secrets owners who experience theft by foreign actors or theft that occurs abroad.  There are numerous hurdles to securing relief for trade secret theft in such circumstances, including barriers to asserting jurisdiction, limitations on discovery that would otherwise be necessary to prove theft, and enforcing awards against foreign defendants (even if an IP owner is able to overcome the initial barriers and win in court).  In imposing sanctions, the US Government will not have to contend with the same difficult evidentiary issues facing the private sector, which often faces difficulty in proving trade secret theft, particularly if it requires discovery on conduct that occurred outside the United States.  The availability of economic sanctions is therefore a meaningful change in law with the potential to become a frequently-used mechanism.


Christine Streatfeild is a Partner in the Washington DC Office and on the Steering Committee for the North America Trade Secrets Practice. She focuses on trade remedies and unfair competition cases, including forced labor investigations, antidumping and countervailing duty cases, safeguard measures, duties imposed for national security purposes (Section 232 duties), and Section 337 intellectual property and trade secrets disputes. She appears before the US International Trade Commission (ITC), US Department of Commerce (DOC), and in state and federal courts. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Christine served as the acting deputy director of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and in the Environment and Natural Resources division of the Office of the United States Trade Representative. She has also served as an adjunct professor at the Krieger School, Johns Hopkins University, where she taught Global Trade, Policy and Competition. She is also on the 2021 USMCA Dispute Settlement Panels Roster (on behalf of the United States), a position she has held since 2019 (under the NAFTA). Christine focuses her practice on matters related to trade regulatory and intellectual property matters, including economic injury and damages, import duty compliance, and unfair competition allegations.


Paul Amberg is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s Madrid office, where he handles international trade and compliance issues. He advises multinational companies on export controls, trade sanctions, antiboycott rules, customs laws, anticorruption laws, and commercial law matters.


Alexandre Lamy joined Baker McKenzie in 2009 and currently works in the Firm's International Trade Practice Group. He assists clients with sanctions and export controls (Export Administration Regulations (EAR); International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)) and he advises clients on corporate compliance matters. Alex contributes regularly to Baker McKenzie's Sanctions & Export Controls Update blog.
Since August 2021, Alex has been the co-chair of the ABA Section of International Law’s Export Controls & Economic Sanctions Committee. Prior to that appointment, he served on the steering group and as a Vice Chair of the Committee, starting back in August 2011. Alex has organized multiple events regarding recent developments in US trade sanctions and export controls for the Committee.
Alex was recognized in Who's Who Legal 2020 Edition of its Global Guide to Trade & Customs Lawyers as a "leading individual" in North America on International Sanctions and the publication reported that he "attracts applause for delivering 'a practical service which understands the needs of the business'. His 'ready availability to clients, thorough research and strong presentation skills' are further acclaimed." He was also recognized in the 2019 Edition of the same publication as being "much sought after by clients who praise his 'advice of the highest quality' and add, 'He is technically very good on OFAC sanctions issues and military/dual use export controls.'" Alex was named by Financier Worldwide in, “POWER PLAYERS: International Trade & Sanctions 2021 - Distinguished Advisers.


Vivian Tse regularly advises US and multinational companies on complex international trade, regulatory compliance, and cross-border commercial transactions related matters.

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