On August 18, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced a trade probe of China's intellectual property practices. According to the Chicago Tribune, the probe is meant to verify complaints that "Beijing improperly requires foreign companies to hand over technology in exchange for market access." The United States government claims that these allegations amount to serious intellectual property and technology theft, meriting a thorough investigation that may take up to a year. The probe was invoked by triggering Section 301 of the Trade of Act of 1974, which allows the president to levy tariffs and other such restrictions on countries accused of "unfair trade practices." If the allegations against China are true, it is estimated that the value of intellectual property loss may amount to as high as $600 billion.