Economic Espionage

The law regarding Economic Espionage contains two separate provisions that criminalize the theft or misappropriation of trade secrets. The first provision, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1831, is directed towards foreign economic espionage and requires that the theft of the trade secret be done to benefit a foreign government, instrumentality or agent. The second provision makes criminal the more common commercial theft of trade secrets, regardless of who benefits. 18 U.S.C. § 1832.  The Federal Bureau of Investigation has investigative responsibility for complaints arising under both of these sections. Cases involving importation of goods which contain or use the misappropriated trade secret may also be investigated by the United States Customs Service.  Possible Defenses to allegations of Economic Espionage include Parallel Development and Reverse Engineering.