SolarWorld Americas has backed proposed bi-partisan legislation to reinforce the protection of trade secrets.

The module maker was one of five victims named in charges against the members of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is alleged that pricing information, manufacturing data and its business strategy were stolen by hackers in 2012. The US Department of Commerce is now considering the impact of the allegations on the long-runnign solar trade investigation.

A proposed new law, sponsored by Senators Chris Coons and Orrin Hatch, would unify trade protection and put it on a level playing field with copyright, trademark and patent laws. It's companion bill, proposed by Congressman George Holding, has passed through the House Judiciary Committee.

“US companies need the strongest possible tools to combat cyberhacking and theft of their trade secrets,” said Desari Strader, head of government relations, SolarWorld Americas. “Giving these companies a federal civil right of action will deter the use of illegally obtained information from government and quasi-governmental organisations.

“As organisations, such as leading internet security firm CrowdStrike, have reported, hacking groups such as this one steal intellectual property as well as financial, sales, and cost data from Western businesses in order to give a competitive advantage to Chinese industry,” said Strader.

“Two years later, despite access to our trade secrets, we are still here and you can be sure we will use all available tools to fight for American jobs and American innovation,” she added.

Manufacturers including 3M, GE, DuPont and Philips have backed the proposed new laws.

“The intellectual property that drives the US economy has never been more valuable, or more vulnerable,” said Democrat Senator Chris Coons. “Congress needs to stop the haemorrhaging of jobs and revenue being lost to the theft of trade secrets by passing this legislation," he added.