A bipartisan pair of U.S. senators on Thursday introduced bipartisan legislation to mandate strong economic penalties on firms and individuals involved in stealing American intellectual property.

Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced the Protecting American Intellectual Property Act, which would require sanctions on individuals and firms found to engage in, benefit from, or enable the significant and serial theft of U.S. intellectual property.

The Protecting American Intellectual Property Act requires a report to Congress every six months identifying:

  • Any individual or firm that has engaged in, benefited from, or materially assisted the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets, if that theft constitutes a major threat to the national security, foreign policy, economic health or financial stability of the United States; and,
  • The chief executive officers and board members of the reported firms and whether those individuals have benefited from the significant and serial theft of U.S. trade secrets

Subsequently, the bill requires:

  • For any firm identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose either property blocking sanctions or a denial order.
  • For any individual identified in the report to Congress, the President must impose property blocking sanctions and must prohibit the individual’s entry into the United States.
  • The economic penalties imposed terminate if the President certifies to Congress that the individual or firm is no longer engaged in the sanctionable behavior. The legislation also includes a national security waiver.

“For too long foreign companies – often enabled by foreign governments – have stolen U.S. technology, which harms the American economy and our national security. The U.S. cannot sit idly by as these companies cheat their way to success at the expense of American businesses and jobs,” said Senator Van Hollen, in a prepared statement.

“We need to stop pulling punches and go after thieves and hackers. It’s time for the U.S. Government to stop leaving an open door for China and other adversaries to steal intellectual property and undercut our strength. We have serious economic tools to fight back, let’s use them,” said Senator Sasse, also in a prepared statement.