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78 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1475 (2003)
Secrets and Spies: Extraterritorial Application of the Economic Espionage Act and the Trips Agreement

handle is hein.journals/nylr78 and id is 1489 raw text is: SECRETS AND SPIES:
EXTRATERRITORIAL APPLICATION OF
THE ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE ACT AND
THE TRIPS AGREEMENT
ROBIN J. EFFRON*
Trade secret theft, the unauthorized use and appropriation of proprietary informa-
tion, recently has received significant attention at both the national and interna-
tional level. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA), the first federal law to
address proprietary information, criminalizes the theft of trade secrets. Article 39
of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS),
the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement mandating minimum levels of
intellectual property protection for member nations, is the first international treaty
to require protection of proprietary information. This Note explores the relation-
ship between the EEA and TRIPS. The EEA is an unusually protectionist trade
secret statute, controversial in scope even within the United States. The EEA gives
substantive trade secret protection to certain classes of information and actions,
providing guarantees that are more extensive than under the TRIPS Agreement.
This Note considers these differences in the context of extraterritorial application of
the EEA and the sovereignty interests of other signatories to the WTO. It examines
the legal framework within which U.S. courts considering the EEA may limit the
extraterritorial scope of the statute. Using principles of international law and statu-
tory interpretation, this Note concludes that the extraterritoriality provisions of the
EEA can be given a limited construction that gives force to both the statute and the
treaty.
INTRODUCTION
In 1992, when Jose Ignacio Lopez de Arriortua left his position as
purchasing Vice President at General Motors (GM) for rival auto
manufacturer Volkswagen AG, he did not simply take with him the
cost-cutting policies that earned him the nickname SuperLopez at
GM.1 He also took four binders and several diskettes containing what
GM alleged to be proprietary information. The documents contained
sensitive data about new car models and supplier prices. GM had
* B.A., 2001, Barnard College, Columbia University; J.D. Candidate, 2004, New York
University School of Law. I would like to thank Professors Larry Kramer and Rochelle
Dreyfuss for indispensable comments at every stage of writing this Note. I am also
indebted to Andrew Effron and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross for thoughtful suggestions on
earlier drafts. Finally, this Note would not have been possible without the editorial talents
of Aparna Ravi, Amy Powell, Julie James, Cristina Diaz, the able direction of Larry Lee
and Ming Hsu Chen, and the staff of the New York University Law Review.
1 These facts are taken from VW Gives GM Disks and Binders Relating to the Lopez
Dispute, Wall St. J., Mar. 3, 1997, at C13; Carita Vitzthum, Life After VW: Lopez
Rebounds, Turns into Busy Philosophizing Consultant, Wall St. J., Feb. 28, 1997, at A10.
1475

Imaged with the Permission of N.Y.U. School of Law

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