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 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 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.


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. Paul helps clients assess and address compliance risks presented by export controls, trade sanctions, antiboycott rules, customs laws, and anticorruption laws. His practice especially focuses on internal reviews, voluntary disclosure filings, and enforcement actions brought by, the US Government in relation to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), trade and economic sanctions programs, and US customs laws.


Alex advises clients on compliance with US export controls, trade and economic sanctions, export controls (Export Administration Regulations (EAR); International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)) and antiboycott controls. He counsels on and prepares filings to submit to the US Government's Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) with respect to the acquisition of US enterprises by non-US interests. Moreover, Alex advises US and non-US companies in the context of licensing, enforcement actions, internal investigations, compliance audits, mergers and acquisitions and other cross-border transactions, and the design, implementation, and administration of compliance programs. He has negotiated enforcement settlements related to both US sanctions and the EAR.


Vivian advises clients on a wide range of international trade issues, including US export controls such as the Export Administration Regulations (EAR), sanctions, internal investigations, and voluntary disclosure filings to the US government. She also advises clients on M&A export control, sanctions, and customs and import law due diligence reviews of target companies, in collaboration with the Firm’s M&A team in multiple jurisdictions. Further, Vivian’s practice covers multijurisdictional commercial transactions including contract localizations and post-acquisition integrations.