A Review of State Criminal Trade Secret Theft Statutes | Vol. 21, No. 2

Mar 3, 2017

Kurt M. Saunders and Michelle Evans

Trade secret theft in the United States is a serious problem, and criminal penalties exist for this misconduct in both federal and state statutes. For twenty years, the literature in this area has focused almost entirely on the federal statute, the Economic Espionage Act. However, federal prosecutors have shown little interest in bringing charges under this statute unless the case involves theft of trade secrets owned by large corporations or economic espionage by agents of a foreign government. Small to medium-sized companies that have been victims of trade secret theft often must rely on state-specific criminal statutes. Unfortunately, not much has been written about these state statutes, even though most have been around for fifty years. This information would be useful to business owners contemplating pressing criminal charges against an offender for trade secret theft. The purpose of this article is to review state criminal trade secret theft statutes in the United States.