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Open Borders, the US Economic Espionage Act of 1996, and the Global Movement of Knowledge and People

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Many scholars have demonstrated that labour mobility between firms has lead to the economic success of Silicon Valley. California's policy against enforcing covenants not to compete has been shown to provide the legal infrastructure for high labour mobility. Does the argument extend to mobility of skilled labour across national borders? This Article addresses that question in the context of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, the first federal criminal trade secret law in the United States. By analysing the scholarly literature and the case law under the Act, the author presents a theoretical framework for assessing the Act based on international trade theory. The Article concludes that there are policy reasons to be sceptical about the Act and several reforms could ease the potential chilling effect of the Act on the mobility of skilled labour.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Until 2007 the King's Law Journal was known as the King's College Law Journal. It was established in 1990 as a legal periodical publishing scholarly and authoritative Articles, Notes and Reports on legal issues of current importance to both academic research and legal practice. It has a national and international readership, and publishes refereed contributions from authors across the United Kingdom, from continental Europe and further afield (particularly Commonwealth countries and USA). The journal includes a Reviews section containing critical notices of recently published books.

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