I wanted to underscore the importance of protecting company assets. Generally, company assets include physical assets as well as commercial or technical information that is used in business and offers an advantage over competitors who do not know or use such information. For example, a trade secret may be a formula for a chemical compound, a machine for manufacturing a product, a manufacturing process, computer software, SK drawings, and marketing information or, under certain circumstances, a list of customers.
The U.S. Economic Espionage Act of 1996 makes theft or misappropriation of trade secrets a federal crime. Conviction of the theft of trade secrets under the Economic Espionage Act can result in a fine of up to $250,000 for an individual (up to $5 million for corporations), imprisonment up to ten years, or both. If the crime is committed for the benefit of any foreign government, instrumentality, or agent, the penalties increase to fines of $500,000 (up to $10 million for an organization), imprisonment up to 15 years, or both.
The Act defines a trade secret as all forms and types of financial, business, scientific, technical, economic, or engineering information, including patterns, plans, compilations, designs, SK drawings, prototypes, methods, techniques, processes, procedures, programs, or codes, whether tangible or intangible and whether or how stored. The Act would cover this type of data if reasonable steps were taken to keep such information secret and the information derives independent economic value (actual or potential) from not being generally known to the public. The act defines owner as “the person or entity in whom or in which rightful legal or equitable title to, or license in, the trade secret is reposed.”
The Act states:
“Whoever, with intent to convert a trade secret, that is related to or included in a product that is produced for or placed interstate or foreign commerce, to the economic benefit of anyone other than the owner thereof, and intending or knowing that the offense will, injure any owner of that trade secret, knowingly . . . performs any of the acts set forth in numbered (1)(5) recited hereinabove shall be liable for the recited penalties.”
It is essential that we highlight to all Company employees the importance of maintaining our data secure, whether electronic or in hard copy, as this is critical information that could have a devastating business and economic consequences to our group if leaked to the wrong hands. We are currently taking steps to secure our IT data infrastructure; however, the key to ensuring the security of our information rest squarely on the shoulders of each individual employee. It would be prudent for you to message the importance of this issue to all employees at PPI, PPITS, C&S and PF. In addition, this Memorandum will be posted in the PAP Compliance page.